‘Welsh workers will not be bullied by Westminster’ – Plaid Cymru
Plaid Cymru will today (Monday 30 January) urge the UK Government to adopt amendments to the controversial Strikes Bill which would protect Welsh workers’ rights from “antidemocratic” Henry VIII powers.
The anti-strike bill will go through its Committee and Remaining Stages in the House of Commons today.
The bill as drafted includes a clause that allows the secretary of state in Westminster to amend or revoke Welsh legislation without the need for further primary legislation or even consultation with the Welsh Government, sometimes called Henry VIII powers.
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP, described the legislation as “anti-worker, antidemocratic and authoritarian” and urged all Welsh MPs to back her party’s amendments.
Plaid Cymru’s amendment would prevent the Secretary of State from being able to make consequential amendment to an Act or Measure of Senedd Cymru – meaning that the UK Government would have no right to interfere with Welsh workers’ rights protections.
A second Plaid Cymru amendment would require the UK Government to undertake an impact assessment on the effect of the legislation on industrial relations in Wales, with particular reference to the intended outcomes of the Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Bill currently debated in the Senedd.
The anti-strikes Bill “compromises” Wales’s Social Partnership Bill, according to Ms Saville Roberts, as it goes against its aim of placing duties on public bodies to seek consensus or compromise with trade unions. She added that workers and wider Welsh society wanted a future where “workers are valued, not bullied by Westminster.”
Ms Liz Saville Roberts MP said: “Our society cannot function without the thousands of workers who run our hospitals, public transport systems, our schools, our courts. Sacking people for demanding fair pay and fair conditions for fair work is utterly counterproductive.
“Westminster’s anti-worker, anti-democratic and authoritarian bill goes against everything we stand for. It undermines the right to strike and compromises our legislation to protect rights in Wales.
“So called Henry VIII powers that give UK Government Ministers the powers to amend or revoke workers’ rights legislation on a whim, have no place in a modern democratic society.
“Plaid Cymru want to chart a different path where workers are empowered and valued, not bullied by Westminster.
“When the House of Commons debates Plaid Cymru’s amendments today, I urge all Welsh MPs to stand with us in protecting Welsh workers’ rights from these shameless attacks.”
The Labour Party is also to put forward an amendment to the controversial plans for a new law on strikes, aimed at safeguarding unfair dismissal protections it says are threatened by the legislation.
Deputy leader Angela Rayner said the Opposition intended to put the amendment to a vote during a debate in the Commons on Monday.
Labour said it will attempt to force Business Secretary Grant Shapps to undertake a comprehensive impact assessment on the proposals, including on workforce numbers, employers and equality law.
Ms Rayner said: “The Government’s ‘Sacking Nurses Bill’ is a shoddy, unworkable and vindictive piece of legislation.
“Labour will be seeking to safeguard unfair dismissal protections that this Bill seeks to erode.
“Conservative MPs face a clear choice over whether they will vote to safeguard rights at work or rip up key workers’ protections from unfair dismissal.
“The Conservatives are seeking to rush this ill-conceived Bill through Parliament without proper scrutiny and proposing to hand arbitrary powers to ministers.
“They have failed to consider the risk this worsens the recruitment and retention crisis, increases the bureaucratic burden on employers or opens the door for discrimination against key workers.
“Labour is looking to force them to go back to the drawing board with this dog’s dinner of a Bill that will do nothing to resolve disputes and instead risks pouring petrol on the fire.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We must keep the public safe, which is why we are introducing minimum service and safety levels across a range of sectors to ensure that lives and livelihoods are not lost.”
The Government will publish an impact assessment of the legislation “in due course.”
MPs will spend up to six hours considering the remaining stages of the Bill on Monday.
More than 50 pages of amendments have been tabled for the Bill’s committee stage, including an SNP bid to rename it the “Anti-Strikes (Forced Working) Bill”.
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