The Trade Union Bill is an unapologetic attack on the unions. The Bill consists of a number of draconian restrictions on how Trade Unions can function.
Many employees may be unaware of the benefits of the unions. People often turn to unions in times of trouble. At the prospect of unfair dismissal, disciplinary procedures, harassment or discrimination, the unions are often the only people both able and willing to intervene. We have many progressive and much needed employment laws but these laws are not always upheld. Individual workers are helpless against massive corporations with their authority and financial backing. When employees unite they are able to show their true value to a company. Labour withdrawal through strike action is a vital tool in exerting union power.
Even workers who have never belonged to a union have benefited from their achievements for workers’ rights. We need the unions to demand and enforce sick pay, holiday pay, lunch breaks etc. This is demonstrated by the fact that higher unionised workplaces benefits tend to exceed those of other sectors. With the Tory’s destruction of the welfare state, job security is even more important than ever.
Jeremy Hunt told his party that he wants low paid people in the UK to work as hard as the Chinese. China is a country which faces allegations of poor working conditions, forced labour and even child labour – hardly something to aspire to. The truth is that asking Brits to work longer will exacerbate our problem of work related stress, fatigue and depression. This will increase the burden on our already overstretched NHS.
In Surrey alone, unions are active and progressive. This summer saw a dispute between Abellio Surrey and its bus drivers. The company threatened to disregard agreements over pay and conditions, Unite were able to resolve the issue without strike action. With the increased privatisation and budget cuts, doctors, nurses, teachers and other public sector workers are in desperate need of their rights to industrial action.
Despite the efforts of Green MP Caroline Lucas and others who contested it, The Trade Union bill passed the second reading last week. We need to make our voices heard and let Downing Street know the workers of Surrey will not let their rights be eroded.