Unite GS defends right to strike, warning government, employers and judges not to stand in their way


Unite general secretary Len McCluskey opened TUC 2012 with a rousing speech vowing to fight the government, employers and judges who stood in the way of trade unions’ right to strike.

Opening his speech with the line: “The mask of new-Toryism is slipping and the Conservative dog is returning to its vomit”, McCluskey finished by calling on working people to “rise like lions and let our roar be heard”.

The first motion on the agenda was calling for the TUC to step up the Employment Rights Stop Employment Wrongs campaign, depend TUPE and collective redundancy rights, promote facility time and collective bargaining to political parties and a host of other measures.

The Trade Union Reform Campaign – the anti-trade union Parliamentary group chaired by Aidan Burley – came under attack from more than one speaker in the debate, as McCluskey led the assault on the government after the reshuffle.

“This reshuffle is all about placating right-wingers and it’s more than likely Cameron will throw them a right-wing bone, but we will send our message that we will fight this reactionary agenda and trade unions will not allow our human rights to be trampled on. We have had enough.”

Talking about the hurdles placed in the way of trade unions organising strike action, he said: “As we defend our rights to strike, we are not going to break the law as a gesture, but we will not let the law paralyse us when it comes to supporting our members as they fight for justice.

“So I give the government, bad bosses and judges fair notice: “if you come for Unite with the law, don’t assume we’re going to run.

“Unite has fought Willie Walsh and won, confronted construction bosses and won, challenged London bus privateers and won. And if Cameron, Osborne and their gang come for us, we will beat them too.”

The motion was backed by UNISON, URTU, CWU, Usdaw, NUT and PCS, and was carried unanimously.

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