Trade Union Bill: another calculated attack on workers’ rights

The European Court of Human Rights may have a mandate to intervene against the Conservatives’ anti-strike proposals


The Tories’ Trade Union Bill is an extraordinary attack on the human rights of working people. Only Labour can stop it, but some in the party will fear a confrontation over workers’ rights. It’s vital we don’t let that fear get the better of us.

The Trade Union Bill will make strikes for public sector workers impossible unless 40 per cent of workers eligible to vote favour industrial action and the voter turnout reaches 50 per cent.

In addition, in the unlikely event of a strike, the plans would make it easier for employers to hire agency staff, making industrial action ineffective and making collective rights redundant.

It’s ironic that a Tory government that won only 37 per cent of the vote wishes to implement such a law.

If democracy in the United Kingdom was held to the same standards, no government would be elected. The Conservatives won the most recent election with 37 per cent  of the vote and in 2010 won 36.1 per cent and managed to form government.

Yet the same percentages would not provide a mandate for public sector strikes. This intrinsically flaws the proposal.

As well as its hypocrisy, the proposed law will severely undermine human rights, specifically freedom of association. By limiting public sector strikes, the government will be preventing the universal right to freedom of association, a right closely linked to freedom of expression.

This will compromise the right of a group to take collective action to pursue the interests of its members.

The state is obligated to protect the right to strike and collective bargaining in order to allow for the protection of workers. The right to strike and collective bargaining maintain safe working conditions, fair wages and healthy working hours. These are things that benefit us all.

Labour should always be a broad church, but we should also continue in our tradition of fighting to preserve the protection of workers when they are at their most vulnerable.

Workers’ rights are human rights and this is just another proposal for legislation that is consistent with the Conservative’s anti-human rights agenda. In fact, it is very much linked to the Tories’ attack on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act.

The ECHR protects the rights of workers under freedom of association. In a case a few years ago involving the Turkish government’s ban on public sector strikes, the European Court of Human Rights used the ECHR to declare the law incompatible with Turkey’s human rights obligations.

The European Court of Human Rights may therefore have a mandate to intervene against the Conservatives’ anti-strike proposals. Aware of this, the Conservatives have developed what looks like a deliberate and calculated plan to assault workers’ rights and undermine the ECHR at the same time.

The Labour Party must not be afraid to challenge the Tories’ or appear to be seen too left-wing on the issue of human rights. Regardless of the election defeat or a future policy supporting aspiration, Labour must maintain its position to protect the fundamental human rights of workers in the United Kingdom.

Steven Male is a Campaigns Volunteer with the Labour Campaign for Human Rights

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75 Responses to “Trade Union Bill: another calculated attack on workers’ rights”

  1. stevep

    I can make you one if you insist.

  2. stevep

    Free trade doesn`t exist for the wealthy elite, they have plenty of barriers, subsidies, economic incentives and taxpayers to pay benefits to subsidise profit-making. Almost a socialist state for the rich. It only exists for the rest of us.

  3. stevep

    I salute migration!
    Judging by some of the right-wing views and rants on this website, it seems the white Anglo-Saxon gene pool could do with some help.
    As for flotsam, jetsam and the unemployable, why don`t you leave Bankers, city spivs and the Tory cabinet alone!

  4. stevep

    Secret ballots are fine. large amounts of anti-TU legislation was and is, repressive and regressive.

  5. stevep

    Or an illiterate agricultural labourer or factory worker being told by the company boss on election day that anyone voting for the wrong party would be found out and sacked. Widespread.

  6. gunnerbear

    “As for flotsam, jetsam and the unemployable, why don`t you leave Bankers, city spivs and the Tory cabinet alone!” Top Notch! 🙂

  7. gunnerbear

    Then you’d turn it into an echo chamber like LL or ConHome.

  8. gunnerbear

    “If Gordon Brown made one big mistake, it was trusting the city and the banks at their word to regulate themselves. He admits that. The whole world now knows the big financial institutions cannot be trusted at their word.” Then Gordon was a total f**kwit, unfit to be CotE or PM if he believed the words coming from the City. We regulate Doctors, Nurses, water quality, rail workers, steel workers etc. because we know regulation is necessary to keep individuals and companies in line………yet Gordo the Ungreat – not satisfied with smashing the pensions framework – sat back and let his chums in the City to their worst.

  9. stevep

    Utter rubbish.
    the Tories created the template for poor city and banking behaviour in the UK, Labour inherited it. Did I not make that clear? The Banks and the city were deregulated by the Thatcher regime and became powerful self-serving institutions, difficult to control.
    Large swathes of the globe were also in the same boat.
    Any cursory examination of the facts (loads on the web, Wikepedia etc,) will show much of what you are trying to pass off as given, is in fact, at best, risible. At worst, untrue.

  10. stevep

    No, just a forum where we can discuss progressive left-of -centre politics, like it says on the tin.
    It wastes time and space arguing with Tory trolls out to disrupt and divide the debate, but if it has to be done, I`m not one to shirk my duty.

  11. stevep

    Thank you!

  12. blarg1987

    Or they could reduce CEO pay, and share dividends.

    Or not ruin the economy.

  13. gunnerbear

    None of which reduces the competition for manufacturers. How much do you think Apple would pay in wages to have kit made in the UK?

  14. Faerieson

    So, what do you suggest, everybody should have less rights because of this discrepancy? Surely, in an ideal situation, everyone would have the right to collective bargaining. It rather depends upon whether you’re aiming for the lowest common denominator or the highest.

  15. gunnerbear

    “Strike action is a last resort.” Except in the public sector. Why is that private school teachers don’t strike yet teachers turning out illiterates do? Ohh…that’s right….can you guess which are the public sector workers and which are the private sector ones. And yes I know that the number of strikes in the private sector can be higher but the days lost are tiny compared to (some of ) the spongers in the public sector. Of course the real point about strikes in the private sector is that they can cause firms to fold dropping everyone in the s**t? Not quite the same by a long chalk for the teachers and the like,

  16. blarg1987

    With the way things are going they may might, as things that were manufactured in china are coming back to the UK.

  17. Selohesra

    Knee-jerk Leftie response No1 – Its all Fatcher’s fault

  18. gunnerbear

    I hope you’re right but I doubt it.

  19. gunnerbear

    Actually secret ballots were brought into protect the workers who wanted to vote against the Union line. Fancy standing in a field and saying, “Hmm…about this pay deal because I want the company to be around for the next 20 years…” when surrounded by the older worker salivating at getting huge pay-offs if they can force redundancies. Want a brick thrown though your window for expressing that view – that’s why we have secret ballots, to protect the voter, which is why Communist, terrorist supporting scum like Corbyn hate them….

  20. stevep

    It was.

  21. stevep

    Plenty of bricks and worse have been thrown at workers taking industrial action to defend themselves against the forces of capital. Potential strikers could have stood to lose their livelihoods and worse, in situations like that they needed to know if they were all going to stand side by side together, hence the show of hands.
    The secret ballot, whilst perceived to be “fair”, is just another tool employers use to divide and rule.
    Capitalists hate anything that has the potential to alter the distribution of wealth. That is why they do whatever they can and employ the many and various weapons at their disposal to disrupt and destroy collectivity, for it is their main threat and the only means the poor man has to stand up for himself.

  22. gunnerbear

    stevep, Honestly, please you’re trying to defend the indefensible. Secret ballots are a good thing.

  23. RebeccaFHardy

    Last 30 year Best Home Income with leftfootforward. < Find Here

  24. Dave Stewart

    Gordon Brown architect of neolibralism, I think not.

    It all started off in the late 60s and early 70s with a handful of theorists based in Chicago. Nothing to do with Brown at all expect that he continued on with it.

  25. gunnerbear

    The ‘Gordo’ was either CotE or PM from ’97 – ’10. He built the ruinous system of tax credits, he let homes on benefits get more than the average wage, he wrecked occ. pensions and created the laxest regulations ever and let the City get away with what the City wanted. He was also there when the Climate Change Act was brought in along with a carbon tax – that has now killed Hatfield pit and put hundreds of people out of work and threated thousands of jobs in the local economy. Brown was there when the UK threw open the gates to all and sundry, smashing conditions for those at the bottom of the pile. Brown was also the man that didn’t dare let the UK public vote on the Lisbon Treaty, instead signing it, in private like a political pervert, ashamed of what he was doing. It was of course senior figures in the Labour Party that said the public shouldn’t get a vote on the EU as the public couldn’t be trusted. Meanwhile, Brown was letting Burnham attempt to cover up Mid-Staffs whilst also wrecking Hitchingbrooke in a failed privatisation plan. I’d say Brown was a tool and a failure……just as like Ed….and the public punished the Party for it. And that’s not even mentioning foreign affairs. And spare me the diatribe about being a Tory Troll – I’m non-aligned.

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