The legislation is an attempt to ‘drive a wedge between working people’
General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Paul Nowak took to the airwaves this morning to speak out about the anti-strikes bill which will be voted on by MPs this evening.
He slammed media accusations of union ‘scare tactics’ by laying out the reality of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill which could see workers lose their job for taking strike action.
As media presenters sought to play down the implications of the bill, Nowak said threatening workers with the sack was ‘untenable’ and that the real reason it was being put through was to ‘demonise trade unions’ and ‘drive a wedge between working people’.
“There is no public appetite at all to see nurses, paramedics, teachers, railway [ workers …] sacked for exercising what most people will think as a fundamental British liberty, the right to strike,” Nowak said on Sky News.
“To remove it would put the UK as a real international outlier.”
The government’s standoff with public sector workers has escalated with plans for a coordinated “day of action” by unions, who have reacted furiously to proposed legislation they say could let ministers in effect ban strikes in some areas.
There is anger among unions about the new anti-strike bill, which will apply in England, Scotland and Wales, and which ministers hope will become law later this year.
Mick Lynch, the general secretary of the RMT rail union, called it “an attack on human rights and civil liberties which we will oppose in the courts, parliament and the workplace”, while Sharon Graham, the leader of Unite, called it “another dangerous gimmick from a government that should be negotiating to resolve the current crisis they have caused”.
Paul Nowak, the TUC’s general secretary, said on Tuesday that the proposed anti-strike legislation was “undemocratic, unworkable and almost certainly illegal” and was a “sack key-workers bill”.