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Trade unions uniting in opposition to Tory anti-strike laws is welcomed by Usdaw

Date: 09 December 2023 A special TUC conference on Saturday agreed to build mass opposition to the Government’s Minimum Service Levels regulations. The TUC said it will not rest until the malicious, unnecessary and unworkable law are scrapped and welcomed Labour’s commitment to repeal the legislation in the first 100 days of coming into government.
The Government announced on Friday that the regulations were now in place for the railway industry, Border Force and ambulance service, with the aim of ensuring a minimum level of service during strikes. This anti-union legislation means that when workers democratically vote to strike, they could be forced to work and sacked if they don’t.
Moving the TUC General Council statement at the special congress, Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary said: “This statement outlines the General Council’s proposals for a clear, comprehensive and decisive response from the trade union movement to the Tory Government’s latest vicious attack on workers’ rights. It follows on from the position we agreed at Congress in September. Then we agreed to build mass opposition to minimum service levels, we resolved to use all means necessary to oppose them and we reaffirmed our solidarity with any trade unions attacked by them.
“Through this statement, we have expanded on those commitments, with a detailed plan. A plan to support our movement to challenge these restrictions, to make sure that every union member, in every workplace, has the support they need when their rights are under threat. A plan to resist this unjustifiable attack on our right to strike. We will keep on fighting back in the courts – both at home and internationally. In the workplace, we will stand up against work notices, calling on employers to reject them, but if they are imposed we will resist them.
“Every dispute is different and there will be no one-size-fits-all response. Unions will make their own decisions, led by their members and democratic processes, on how they fight back. But make no mistake, any member threatened with a work notice will feel the collective strength of the trade union movement, representing five and a half million workers, standing with them in solidarity and support and unions will work together to deploy the most effective tactics possible.
“This statement sets out just some of the grounds that we will challenge minimum service levels on: public safety; worker safety; data protection; contractual agreements, and equalities. The statement is also a plan to mobilise our movement in opposition. We will march alongside the sacked GCHQ workers in Cheltenham on 27 January and we will march again, if and when a work notice is deployed.
“We will campaign together, relentlessly, to make the case against minimum service levels in the strongest possible terms and we will make it at every opportunity. Whatever the Government might say, we know that these laws have not been introduced to protect public services. We know that these laws have been introduced to attack trade unions. Creating unworkable, draconian and entirely unnecessary red tape, to weaken us, to damage us and to undermine our members’ fundamental rights. While we will continue to fight for them to be repealed, we have a very welcome and solid commitment from the Labour Party to do just that, in the meantime, we can expect the Government to use these laws to attack our members and our movement.
“So we must stand ready and this statement makes it clear, that the TUC will act swiftly when our affiliates are under threat. We will look at all the options for support, whether financial, political, industrial, practical or legal. We will make those decisions collectively, through our TUC structures. Our solidarity will not be weakened and we will never allow this Tory Government to divide working people. 
“Today, and every day, the entire trade union movement must stand together. We must stand together to protect the right to strike. We must stand together for all workers. And we must stand together against this unnecessary, vindictive, unworkable legislation.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades www.usdaw.org.uk
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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