Eyes on the prize

Trades Union Congress by Marcus Johnstone

licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Robbie Scott says it is imperative to overturn anti-trade union legislation and stand by Labour ‘s commitment to a new deal 

Trade union legislation in the UK has historically favoured corporate interests, tilting the balance of power away from workers. The Trade Union Act of 2016, for instance, raised thresholds for voting on industrial action, limiting workers’ ability to advocate for better conditions and fair wages. Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s significantly impacted trade union legislation, introducing anti-union laws that weakened workers’ rights. These laws restricted strikes, required union elections through compulsory ballots, and banned closed shops. Such legislation fractured solidarity, weakened collective bargaining power, and skewed industrial democracy in favour of employers. 

That’s why Labour’s New Deal for Working People holds such immense significance. Repealing anti-trade union laws is a cornerstone of Labour’s New Deal. It aims to restore the balance of power between workers and employers. These laws have long undermined the ability of trade unions to protect their members, eroding fundamental rights to fair pay, decent working conditions, and collective bargaining. By rolling back these restrictions, we are not only rectifying past injustices but also imbuing trade unions with the necessary strength to advocate for their members in the changing world of work. This is essential in our fight against wealth and income inequality, offering a counterbalance to corporate power, and empowering workers to demand fairness and dignity in their workplaces.

Trade unions are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, a testament to their potent role in advocating for labour rights and social justice. This uptick is particularly pronounced against the backdrop of strikes sweeping across the UK. These waves of collective action highlight a renewed conviction in the power of unity, as workers band together to demand better pay, improved working conditions, and fair treatment uniting teachers and nurses, barristers, and transport workers. The surge in union membership and strike action signifies a shift in social attitudes, where the value of the collective is once again recognised as a force for transformative change.

Repealing anti-trade union laws is not only morally right but also economically sound. Unions play a pivotal role in developing a skilled workforce, protecting workers from exploitative practices, and ensuring fair wages. This, in turn, stimulates demand, fuels economic growth, and engenders a more stable society, which is exactly what’s needed in a post Covid and Brexit world.

Activists from across the movement, now more than ever, must mobilise and campaign for Labour’s New Deal for Working People as it comes under attack from corporate interests. The ever-widening wealth disparity and the erosion of workers’ rights are pressing concerns that demand our immediate attention. 

It’s high time we replace the current legislation with laws that strengthen, not undermine, the rights of workers to organise, bargain collectively, and stand up for their interests. As we stand on the precipice of a pivotal election, our collective responsibility is ever clearer. We may not get this chance again. Let’s stand shoulder to shoulder and ensure that the voices of our workers are heard, their rights protected, and their futures secured. An election is coming. We must keep our eyes on the prize.

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