Protecting the Workers
Trade Unions. They are part of the Labour movement, and we have so much to thank them for. They gave us the weekend, the eight-hour day, and the paid holiday. Now they need our help. Yet again, a Tory Government with an overall majority is trying to crush the unions. They want to be able to use people, as a cheap resource to deliver their wealth. They have no concern for safety, health, dignity or human rights.
Think Left’s article ( 114 year workers’ rights scrapped by coalition government) reveals how long-standing workers’ rights are being eroded by the Coalition government. With legal aid cut, high unemployment and rising costs of living, everyone can see people struggling. How many are aware of how poor workers’ rights and protection in the UK really are?
It is no doubt politics which preys on disaster politics and fear. Fear and lies. The graph shows that protection of permanent working staff in the UK is appalling. The effect of Thatcher’s attack on trade the unions leading to decreased union membership can be seen in perspective. The power of money over the individual struggling alone is immense. One can see how struggling to feed one’s family puts worker against worker, and provides an opportunity for right-wing parties such as UKIP to move in on the scene.
The erroneous lines, “we’re all in it together”, and Cameron’s patronising Keep Calm Dear , while criticised and ridiculed are tolerated by those who believe austerity is necessary, and in the myth of the need to cut structural deficit though several economists argue otherwise.
Recent figures show unemployment is on the rise again. Not only is this costly, it is a waste of human resources, has an impact on mental health, and divides working people.
Recently, immigration has become an issue, because families are living in poverty, and are unable to get work. Meanwhile, there are cuts to the social security protection because of government austerity measures which gives people no hope. A divided working class is a malleable one. The Tories know that. Tony Benn knew. He said, “People who are poor, demoralised and frightened are easy to control.” This whips up division and hatred like in the thirties. As Jeremy Corbyn said, “They are trying to reconfigure our society in the image of the 30s. I’m not sure if it’s the 1930s or the 1830s but certainly some kind of 30s.” And we know what that led to.
“The psychology of competition and love of Peace are uneasy bedfellows” Aneurin Bevan
Michael Meacher comments on the recent statistics
“UK unemployment, which is still as high as 1,850,000, is now starting to rise again. Combined with the jobs standstill, the lack of momentum in pay makes this the most worrying set of labour market figures for a long time. What is equally disturbing is that almost all the increase in employment since the 2008-9 crash has been accounted for by workers from the EU. Employment among EU citizens born outside the UK has now risen above 2 million for the first time. The latest figures point to falling demand for jobs, fewer hours being worked, and little or no evidence of a rise in pay.”
“In that first quarter employment among UK nationals fell by 146,000 while over the same period employment among workers from overseas rose by 91,000. It also emerged that since 1997 the proportion of employment accounted for by non-UK nationals increased from 3.7% to 10.3%.” Michael Meacher MP
The government has just launched its latest salvo attacking our rights at work.
The government’s plans to cut rights for working people, are described in detail, in this document for the TUC (pdf link Trade Union Bill – TUC briefing )
The government expects the Second Reading on the Bill will take place in the House-of-Commons either in September of October 2015.
The main themes are listed here
- The proposals will lead to a serious imbalance of power within the workplace, undermining effective negotiation between employers and unions.
- The Conservative proposals will undermine constructive employment relations, extending disputes and making it more difficult to achieve amicable settlements.
- The government is not interested in encouraging workplace democracy. Instead , they want to prevent midwives, fire-fighters, teachers and cleaners working within the Underground from protesting against cuts in jobs, pay and conditions.
- The right to strike and to protest are fundamental rights which should be protected in a free and democratic society. The government proposals will impose greater restrictions on trade unions than any other voluntary secret membership organisations.
- The Conservatives claim to be the party of working people. However their proposals will remove employees’ ability to achieve better working conditions and living standards.
- Employees will be able to bring in agency workers with a view to breaking strikes, regardless of the consequences for health and safety.
- Trade union protests and pickets will be subject to levels of public and police scrutiny and controls that go far beyond what is fair and acceptable in a modern democracy. These changes will also be a waste of police time.
These must be opposed, by protest groups, by trade unions, and also by the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn will stand alongside workers and supports Trade Unions. Unity is our watchword, within the Labour Party, and within the Movement. We need a strong opposition in parliament. It is not acceptable that MPs representing the heart of the Labour Movement are not wholly behind the defence of these fundamental rights. Following this leadership campaign, it is imperative that the Labour Party and the whole Labour movement are united in opposition. We need to be ready to oppose, because you can be absolutely certain that the Tories will be and they do not need any further advantage than they already have. Unity is our watchword. There are more of us, but we will only be heard by a cohesive opposition led by a strong leader, such as Jeremy Corbyn.
The government is trying to make it even harder for unions to collect fees from its members by banning public authorities from deducting fees-direct payslips. It’s designed to cut off yet more money from trade unions and hobble their ability to defend ordinary workers from bully boy employers.
It’s vitally important to show we will defend our trade unions from these government attacks. They’ve given us everything from the weekend to paid maternity leave. If they are hobbled by ideologically driven laws then bad employers across the country will be able to chip away at our hard-won rights.
“Sum of Us Campaign” is already nearly 80,000 people strong. Their campaign contact is listed below.
Our trade unions are worth defending. They protect ordinary workers — care workers, teachers, nurses, shop workers, cleaners — from poor conditions, low pay and unfair dismissal. But now they need our help. Share information, protest, and ensure that this time the government are countered by a strong, united opposition.
- Sum of Us Campaign
- Stand up, Stand up for Workers
- Thatcher Lives on – Worst Attack on Trade Unions in Thirty Years
- UK Unemployment Rises as Stats show Most jobs go to Citizens of other EU states
- Meacher: Three-quarters of jobs created in UK went to workers from EU
- Now they want the sick pay we already paid for in National Insurance
- Public and Private Workers, Unite
- Biggest crackdown on trade unions for 30 years launched by Conservatives,
Trade Union Bill: Ministers deny ‘attack on workers’ rights’,
- TUC Briefing Trade Union Bill pdf
- 114 Year Workers Rights Scrapped by Coalition Government
- The Appalling Protection of UK Workers and the Red Tape Myth