UK Government attempt to scrap Welsh law shows Tories ‘just hate Wales’ says Welsh minister
A Welsh Government minister has said that UK Conservatives “hate Wales” and seem to want to “break up the UK” after it was confirmed that they would attempt to scrap a law created by the Welsh parliament.
Wales’ Constitution Minister Mick Antoniw was reacting to confirmation that a law passed by the Senedd would be done away with at Westminster as part of the UK Government’s push to crack down on trade unions.
Posting from his personal account, Mick Antoniw took to social media to say: “It seems the UK Tories just hate Wales and working people and the fact that we have social partnership in Wales.
“Or maybe they just want to break up the UK? Maybe both?
“Any attempt to challenge the Trade Union Wales Act will have serious constitutional consequences.
“They will not get this through parliament and will undermine recent Inter-Governmental arrangements put in place to create greater constitutional stability.”
He added: “This is a typical knee jerk response from a collapsing government. And fails to understand that the Act was to protect social partnership and social well-being.”
The UK Government has now said that the Trade Union Wales Act in 2017, which prohibited using temporary workers to cover industrial action, will be done away with.
The UK government said it “intends to legislate to remove the Trade Union (Wales) Act 2017 through primary legislation when Parliamentary time allows, to ensure trade union legislation applies equally across Great Britain”.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS also called the news “a disgrace”.
“This is just the latest episode in a sustained assault by the Conservative Party on the democratic legitimacy of the Senedd and devolved lawmaking,” she said.
“The fact they are overriding our Parliament to try and trample on workers’ rights only makes it all the more disturbing.”
A Welsh government spokesperson said they would “resist” any plans by the UK Government to steamroll legislation passed by the Welsh parliament.
“Imposing tighter restrictions on trade unions and further reducing the rights of people at work is counter-productive and against everything we stand for in Wales,” they said.
“The UK government’s plans will do nothing to improve the lives of working people.”
“We will resist any attempts by the UK government to undermine both how devolved public services operate and legislation which has been passed by the Senedd.”
Education Minister Jeremy Miles took to social media to call the move “undemocratic”.
“The latest UK Government attack on workers’ rights and devolution – appalling, cynical and undemocratic from a party that doesn’t understand the first thing about social partnership,” he said.
“And it will be resisted.”
The General Secretary of TUC Cymru, Shavanah Taj, said the act was introduced to protect workers’ basic rights.
“The UK Government seems determined to attack both workers’ rights and devolution in one go, by introducing an entirely unnecessary piece of legislation,” she said. “It beggars’ belief that in a cost of living crisis, this is their priority.
“We will fiercely oppose any attempts to attack workers’ rights and we look forward to a future where workers throughout the UK have the strongest employment rights in Europe, instead of the weakest.”
UK Government ministers said that under current trade union laws, employment businesses are restricted from supplying temporary agency workers to cover for strikers, saying it can have a “disproportionate impact”.
The legislation will repeal the “burdensome” legal restrictions, giving businesses impacted by strike action the freedom to tap into the services of employment businesses who can provide skilled, temporary agency staff at short notice, said the UK Government.
It would also help mitigate against the impact of future strikes, such as those seen on the railways this week, by allowing trained, temporary workers to carry out crucial roles to keep trains moving, ministers said.
They gave examples of skilled temporary workers being able to fill vacant positions such as train dispatchers.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Once again trade unions are holding the country to ransom by grinding crucial public services and businesses to a halt. The situation we are in is not sustainable.
“Repealing these 1970s-era restrictions will give businesses freedom to access fully skilled staff at speed, all while allowing people to get on with their lives uninterrupted to help keep the economy ticking.”
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