Just months after the re-election of a Conservative Government – and without the restraining hand of their previous coalition partners, the Tories are pushing full speed ahead with their anti-trade union, neo-liberal and Right-wing agenda. Following one of the most vicious budgets in living memory, and an administration which singularly failed to get the deficit or the economy under control, they are attacking everything from those dependent on tax credits, to students and the disabled, to the fundamental rights of our members to engage in legitimate industrial dispute.
As the TUC meets this week, and following the election of a Labour Party leadership far to the Left of anything that has been seen in decades, politics is polarising people like never before. The Trade Union Reform Bill, currently working its way through debate in the Commons, is the most vicious piece of legislation we have seen against our movement for decades. From attacking the check-off system and enabling agency workers to break a strike, to forcing unions to reach turnouts which many parliamentary elections do not achieve as a matter of course, the Conservatives are engaging in their usual union-busting skullduggery, with a venom that we have not seen since the Miners’ Strike. At the same time, they have reached a new low with their attacks on the labour movement itself, going as far as to describe the Labour Party as a threat to “our economic security”.
Few of us will know what kind of “security” they are talking about, considering the collapse in wages – and the simultaneous sky-rocketing rise in the cost of living – we have seen since the Tories took office in 2010. Certainly, trade unionists do not feel any level of security at the moment. Not content with driving down conditions and subjecting our members to the most vile and outrageous propaganda, they wish to attack the trade unions’ most fundamental right – the right to withdraw our labour.
This is not something we should allow them to get away with. The TUC has called a national demonstration at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester on 4th October, and it could be the biggest the North has seen in a very long time. York & District TUC are organising coaches to the event from the Memorial Gardens near York Station and we would encourage you and your members to come along. Information about the day can be viewed on the national TUC website at the following link:
While you can purchase tickets (at a cost of £13 waged and £7 concessionary rate) at the following link:
Members of Unite and Unison who wish to access subsidised tickets, should enter codes UNITE1 or UNISON1 in the appropriate field.
Tell your friends and work colleagues about this demo. It is important that we send them a message they will not forget – we will not be criminalised in this way, and no other nation in Western Europe is pursuing such a rabid Right-wing agenda against the labour movement. The Conservatives’ mandate is slimmer than ever – and the public do not agree with them on this Victorian-style attack on our civil rights. It is up to us to remind them of that fact – loud and clear.