New PM: Unions ready to fight Liz Truss’ ‘dictatorial’ attack on workers’ rights


Union leaders denounced Truss’ proposals, describing them as a ‘Thatcher-style attack’

Unions are preparing to fight back against a series of measures aimed at restricting the ability of workers to take industrial action and a wider attack on labor rights.

Labor movement figures have accused Liz Truss of leading an ‘ideological attack’ on working people and warned the new prime minister is trying to ‘capitalize on a historic cost of living crisis to eradicate the labor movement’.

Despite already being governed by some of the most restrictive union laws in Europe, Truss’ proposals would make it harder for workers to organize by introducing higher voting thresholds for action, taxing strike pay and implementing minimum service levels in certain areas.

It has also been reported that the new Prime Minister is considering revising the rules regarding the 48-hour working week, breaks and mandatory holidays.

The proposals have been criticized as “disconnected and cruel”, with one Labor MP describing the potential changes as “highly authoritarian, undemocratic and dictatorial”.

Truss plans to raise strike threshold is ‘undemocratic’

Both Conservative leadership candidates were keen to expose their union-busting credentials during the contest, which took place amid heightened industrial action.

As workers in various sectors voted to strike over wages and working conditions, Truss and Rishi Sunak criticized the unions and said they would introduce measures to limit their ability to take industrial action.

Truss called for minimum service levels for “critical national infrastructure”, which would mean an effective ban on strikes across a wide range of industries, including rail, energy, health and education.

These proposals were criticized not only by trade unions but also by agency workers’ organisations, who were concerned about the practicality of finding suitably trained workers to replace full-time staff and the health and safety implications. .

It is also believed that the legal two-week notice period that unions are required to provide in the event of a strike is not long enough for companies to organize replacement workers.

Truss has now proposed extending the mandatory notice period for industrial action from two weeks to four weeks.

Other measures proposed by the new Prime Minister could also raise the threshold for support for industrial action from 40% to 50% – meaning workers can only take industrial action if at least 50% of all eligible workers vote for, regardless of how many of those who vote are in favour.

Unions have long criticized these thresholds as unfair, especially since no minimum voting threshold exists for politicians such as Liz Truss, who won no more than 50% of all votes among voters. eligible in his constituency.

In the Conservative leadership election, Truss won 47% of all available votes.

Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and central figure in the Enough is Enough campaign, said of Truss’ proposals that his union would overcome “anything she decides to throw at us”.

The CWU has already launched two major industrial action campaigns in recent months, at Royal Mail and BT, with disputes in both cases over wage offers below inflation, which the union considers unfair, particularly given the earnings, dividends and CEO compensation in both companies.

“It’s no surprise that someone like Liz Truss is trying to capitalize on a historic cost of living crisis to stamp out the labor movement, which is the best defense against poverty in this country,” Ward told NationalWorld. .

“Whatever she decides to throw at us, this union will triumph.”

Call for a “new pact for workers”

The CWU has presented proposals for a “New Deal for Workers” campaign, which would see higher wages for workers, an extension of common bargaining rights across the labor movement and a coordinated campaign against rising wages. energy bills.

Speaking to NationalWorld USDAW General Secretary, Paddy Lillis echoed those calls and criticized Truss’s proposals saying they show she has “no understanding of the very real issues facing working people.” .

He said: “The government must focus on resolving disputes through negotiation, not launching yet another blatant attempt to undermine workers with a collective voice and a real say in their working lives. What we need is a new deal for workers to tackle low-paid and precarious jobs, and a plan to tackle the cost of living crisis that includes action against soaring energy prices.

“With an estimated 12 million households facing fuel poverty, the British public will be disgusted by a new Prime Minister who favors an ideological attack on union members over tackling the cost of living crisis that the Tories themselves have created.

Unions have also denounced suggestions that a tax could be introduced on strike pay, which some unions pay workers from their reserves during industrial disputes.

As union reserves come mainly from membership dues, which are paid by workers from their already taxed wages, this would effectively be double taxation for striking workers.

Alex Marshall, president of the IWGB, said the proposals have come as the Tories are “reeling” from the resurgence of trade unions over the past year.

He told NationalWorld that the proposals “serve nothing but to stifle workers’ power at a time when it is needed more than ever.”

“The re-emergence of the working class is the market’s response to a broken economy, 12 years of conservative incompetence whose sole strategy has made the middle classes poor and the poor poorer,” he said.

“Truss’ energy would be much better spent regulating the gig economy and other notoriously low-paying and broken sectors such as outsourcing, facilities management and cleaning.

“Regulating rogue employers would improve society much faster than stifling the legitimate democratic actions of unions.”

Labor MP Andy McDonald described the plans as a ‘Thatcher-style attack on our unions’ and urged Truss to focus instead on tackling rising energy costs and raising wages.

He said: “Having provoked and deliberately protracted disputes with railway and postal workers, Tory leadership favorite Liz Truss seems determined to make it even harder to defend struggling and crisis-stricken workers. poverty.

“Any attempt to further restrict union activity in this way would be highly authoritarian, undemocratic and dictatorial.

Truss will review the 48-hour work week

In addition to measures proposed by Truss to limit trade union activities, reports have emerged in recent days that the new Prime Minister is considering reviewing the 48-hour working week and other EU directives which provide for minimum levels of paid leave and break time for workers.

The Times reports that Truss may need to reform the working time directive, which prevents bosses from discriminating against workers who do not wish to work more than 48 hours a week.

The review could also change the rules on paid leave, which currently means full-time workers get four weeks of paid leave a year plus bank holidays.

Although still unconfirmed, Truss has previously criticized the work ethic of workers in the UK and would favor cutting regulation in a bid to increase productivity – a strategy opposed by many economists.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady urged Truss to “come out with his plans”.

She said: “Liz Truss’ number one priority should be helping families pay their bills this winter. Threatening hard-won workers’ rights is the last thing the country and workers need.

“Paid leave, equal pay for women and men, safe limits on working hours and parental leave are just some of the rights underpinned by retained EU law. These are vital workplace rights and protections – not benefits.

“Rather than dealing with the cost of living emergency, ministers seem more interested in attacking working conditions for workers.”


About Author

Comments are closed.