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Westminster moves to scrap Wales’ trade union law will prompt ‘civil disobedience’ says Mick Lynch

30 Jun 2022 4 minute read
The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, on a picket line. Picture by Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire.

Moves by Westminster to scrap Wales’ trade union law will prompt ‘civil disobedience’, according to the RMT’s Mick Lynch.

The UK Government confirmed on Monday that they would move to scrap a law passed by the Senedd, as part of their push to crack down on trade unions.

They said that the Trade Union Wales Act in 2017, which prohibited using temporary workers to cover industrial action, will be done away with.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch however said that their members would resist any such move.

“The latest attack on trade union rights is not just an attack on all trade unionists but an anti-democratic move to undermine Welsh devolution,” he said.

“Using agency workers to break strike action is immoral and impractical on the railways. Our members are highly skilled and cannot simply be replaced by agency staff.

“RMT will use all legal means and peaceful civil disobedience to resist any further attacks against trade union rights.”

It was revealed last week that the UK Government law that will attempt to reduce the effectiveness of strikes would apply in Wales as well.

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”.


Mark Drakeford said that the UK Government’s plan was “nonsense” and an attempt to distract from their own incompetence.

“How are they going to get a train to run, how will those other roles get a signal box to operate?” he asked.

“It’s just sand in people’s eyes. Where was that Government last week when it ought to have been round the table helping to resolve this difficulty, why wasn’t it there speaking up on behalf of the travelling population trying to find a solution.

“We’ve got a government which is absent on the job, it doesn’t engage where it ought to engage. It indulges in make believe sorts of policies in order to try throw sand in people’s eyes to hide their own abject failures. That’s all this is about.”

Plaid Cymru called the move a “blatant attack on devolution,” adding “only Welsh independence can protect worker rights and Wales’ democracy.”

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.”

‘Not sustainable’

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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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 year ago

I agree with Mick Lynch. There will be civil unrest if this goes Tory political vandalism goes ahead. ahead. We have an English Conservative Government in London that has no legitimacy to rule in Wales, who largely in power thanks to the English block vote, contemplating the repealing of a 2017 Welsh Law passed by our Senedd Cymru to protect striking workers rights . How can this be happening? If all fails direct action will happen and the Tories will be responsible. I want that block of lard with a mouth Andrew RT Davies to stand up in the Senedd… Read more »

Hell Glibson
Hell Glibson
1 year ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Don’t hold your breath for anything resembling civil unrest or worse in Wales, this nation of the cowed and despondent. Wish it weren’t so, but ’tis true.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

Another job for Serco…blacklegs for hire ?

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 year ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Yes, there is bound to be an unprincipled Serco type firm read to try to do that. However, it was good to hear on the radio the chief of the association that represents firms providing agency staff saying that his members would not do it. Apparently, they would see that as acting politically and could lead to subsequent serious loss of business as more ethical buyers take their business elsewhere.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng should really be looking close to home before making such criticisms. Has he already forgotten Track & Trace?

1 year ago

This just shows that the Torys knew and supported the P&O crime.
Not only did they just sit back and do nothing, now the are making sure every company can replace workers wholesale.

They are a cancer

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 year ago

Well said Mick 👏

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