Socialist Worker

Union leaders: 'We'll risk jail to defy anti-union laws'

by Simon Basketter, at the TUC conference in London
Issue No. 2269

The National Shop Stewards Network lobbied the TUC (Pic: Socialist Worker)

The National Shop Stewards Network lobbied the TUC (Pic: Socialist Worker)

The TUC committed itself to resisting attempts to attack trade union rights.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said, “If this government considers tax avoidance is lawful and can go unpunished then we should plan for anti-union law avoidance in the same spirit.

“The fact that we came to an end of 13 years of Labour government with the Thatcher laws still in place is a stain on Labour’s record.

“Our rights—including the right to stand together for a better life for working people—are not the gift of ministers or judges. They are ours to assert.”

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said, “If going to prison is the price to pay for standing up to bad laws, then so be it.”

He added, “To those who say the time is not right or people are not ready, I say the clock has stopped.

“We’ll give them the biggest campaign of civil disobedience their tiny little minds can ever imagine.”

John Rimmer is president of the NASUWT teachers’ union, which last week announced it would ballot for strikes. He said, “This is not ‘Britain open for business’ as the prime minister claims. This is ‘Britain open for exploitation and abuse’.”

He added, “We’ll show this capitalist government that we’re ready to defend working people everywhere.”

Prison Officers Association general secretary Steve Gillan noted that prison staff were “shackled” by laws laid down in 1994 prohibiting them from going on strike.

But he said, “We’ll defy the law to strike if we have to.”

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