Greens and trade unionists pledge direct action to save UK workers’ rights
As the UK Trade Union Bill continued through Westminster new alliances are forming across the UK to slow it, stop it, and undermine it.
A number of Scottish local authorities have said they will not comply with the bill including SNP-led North Ayrshire Council and Labour-led councils in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Renfrewshire and Stirling. Councils in Wales and England have expressed opposition including Birmingham and Grimsby.
STUC general secretary Grahame Smith told the recent Greens conference that he is prepared to break the law to resist the Bill, designed to restrict the power of unions to strike.
The Scottish and Welsh Governments oppose the bill, with the Scottish Parliament passing a motion on Tuesday.
Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow, tabled an amendment to that motion for the Parliament to go further and support non-compliance with the Bill.
He said: “The UK Tory government attack on workers’ rights must be resisted. Stating opposition isn’t enough.
“With draconian measures such as fines of up to £20,000 for picket supervisors not wearing armbands, we will need the determination to defy this law if it’s passed.”
Brighton MP Caroline Lucas has said “If the Bill is passed into law, I would be prepared to join trade unionists and others in taking non-violent direct action to resist it.”
The call follows an emergency motion on supporting non-compliance at 2015 Scottish Greens conference, where a new trade union group in the party was also launched.
Vice-President of university union ULA and Scottish Greens Co-convener Maggie Chapman said: “The right to withdraw labour collectively and to strike is fundamental. Trade Unions are the way we best allow that right.
“We know that countries which respect the role Trade Unions have to play in creating rights for workers and helping to shape a better society do better in a whole range of ways – from happiness to life expectancy. Greens have always sought to put workers and their rights at the heart of how our society functions.
“To have a better society we must allow Trade Unions to exercise these rights, and we must build a democracy that respects workers, rather than seeks to find new ways to exploit them and reduce their working conditions.”
The Scottish Government motion read as follows: “That the Parliament opposes and condemns the Trade Union Bill as proposed by the UK Government; believes that it restricts the fundamental rights of workers to organise, bargain collectively and, if necessary, withdraw their labour, and further believes that it will both undermine the effective engagement of trade unions across Scottish workplaces and, in particular, across the Scottish public sector. ”
Whether the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliaments have the power to stop the bill is currently in dispute. The Bill is leading to a face-off between Westminster and the devolved legislatures.