New strikes law ‘could trigger biggest act of defiance by unions since 1970s’
A senior union leader has warned that a new law on strikes could trigger the start of trade union defiance not seen since the 1970s.
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, issued the warning ahead of a special TUC conference next weekend to discuss how to respond to controversial regulations aimed at ensuring minimum service levels during industrial action.
He warned that the new law could trigger a wave of strikes next year, up to and during the general election.
Unions believe the new law is expected to start taking effect across three sectors – the ambulance service, rail network and border security – from the middle of December, with regulations for the fire and rescue service, education and nuclear decommissioning also set to be introduced soon.
Employers will be able to issue “work notices” to make staff come in on strike days.
Mr Wrack said: “The Act is a blatant attempt to ban strikes and prevent workers defending their jobs, wages and conditions against the backdrop of Tory austerity and the cost-of-living crisis.
“It’s about protecting bosses against workers.
“The reality of the legislation is now becoming clear. In key sectors, employers will be able to issue work notices compelling a majority of employees to work even after a democratic vote for strike action.
“That’s effectively trying to outlaw strikes.
“It’s the biggest attack on workers’ rights in post-war Britain, and reminiscent of the oppressive restrictions that exist in dictatorships and authoritarian regimes.
“The FBU and other unions will not accept this attack on working people by this Government led by multi-millionaires and which ruthlessly serves the interests of the billionaires and bosses.
“The TUC summit could well mark the start of a campaign of non-compliance with this legislation, with workers striking in defiance of work notices.
“A campaign of non-cooperation backed by the TUC would represent the most significant act of defiance by unions since the 1970s when anti-worker legislation was defeated through mass defiance of the law.
“This could mean a wave of strikes next year, up to and during the next general election.”
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