Just days after Tory leadership candidate Liz Truss announced proposals to severely restrict the right to strike if she were to become prime minister, transport secretary Grant Shapps likewise indicated his government’s aims to all but outlaw unions.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Shapps said he was looking at banning certain strikes, curtailing the right of trade unionists to picket workplaces, and even “outlawing intimidatory language” used by union leaders.
In a measured response to these draconian proposals Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “If Grant Shapps had his way we would all still be in the workhouse. His intervention is just the latest in a growing list of political attacks on trade unions and the most fundamental rights held by working people.
“Whilst this outbreak is clearly framed by a fashion parade within the Conservative Party, it is also deeply serious and shows just how out of touch our political class are,” she added. “The government has miscalculated. People can see behind the usual narrative of “union bad, boss good”. This is not the 1970’s. The cost of living crisis is the latest episode in a long term war on the living standards of workers.
“For decades wages have been pushed down while profits for bosses and investors have gone up and up. Since 1975, the share of national income that people take home in wages has dropped by 10 per cent of GDP,” Graham went on to say.
“The economy isn’t working and trade unions are the last line of defence for workers,” she continued. “When P&O sacked 800 workers at a moments notice, the company did not have to ballot anyone or petition the government to see if they could do it. It’s one law for the bosses and another law for the rest for us.
“I will not apologise for demanding and winning fair pay rises for my members and any action to effectively remove the ability to strike will be met with fierce and prolonged resistance.”
By Barckley Sumner