The Tories’ intention to ram their Trade Union Bill through parliament was clear last week as the bill reached committee stage.
A committee of MPs took evidence from witnesses. But government consultations on the bill that closed over a month ago are yet to be published.
With a Tory majority the bill is being fast-tracked. This is about boosting the
anti-union laws to further curb the right to strike and undermine industrial action.
Mobilisations against it now, before it is passed, can shape the resistance that can defy the law.
During the committee sessions no Tory MP missed the opportunity to push lies about “intimidation” on picket lines, or “blockades” as they were often referred to.
They cited unsubstantiated assertions from the discredited Carr Review. The review was into accusations of intimidation during the 2013 Grangemouth dispute.
Some union leaders think they can appeal to the better nature of certain Tory MPs and want the TUC mobilisation at parliament on 2 November to simply lobby them.
This would throw away an opportunity to build a militant mobilisation.
But others have different ideas. Salford City Unison union treasurer Ameen Hadi spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity. He said, “We want to see a mass rally outside parliament and make ourselves heard.
“We’ve had a lot of interest from branch members about travelling to London. There are 22 of us going so far. We are going to protest, not just lobby MPs.”
Ameen said that Greater Manchester TUC has also called a local protest against the bill on 6 November. Other areas should do the same. “We’re saying no to pay cuts, defend the right to strike, kill the bill,” he said.
“This is an attack on all of us, not just trade unionists—the Tories want to make it easier to destroy the welfare state.”
There is a mood to resist. More than 150 attended a Midlands TUC and Nottingham People’s Assembly meeting against the Bill on Thursday of last week in Nottingham.
Over 200 joined a rally at parliament last week, organised by the Trade Union Coordinating Group.
PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka argued for mass action.
“We need to make 2 November a massive event,” he said. “Organise protests in constituencies. People are never going to need their union like they will soon.”
But he also argued that trade unionists using their right to strike is key to beating the Tories.
He said, “We can’t just wait until the bill becomes law and be on the defensive. The Tories are depending on that happening.
“They’ve thrown down the gauntlet—we need effective industrial action now.”
Kill the Bill, Monday 2 November
•Join the mass TUC lobby of parliament. Assemble 1pm at Westminster Central Hall, Storey’s Gate, London SW1H 9NH
•Protest at 6pm in Parliament Square. Called by the Trade Union Coordinating Group
•Organise local protests in your workplace, town or city in solidarity with the TUC lobby