Keir Starmer pledges to repeal anti-strikes bill

Labour leader makes promises on workers' rights to GMB union Congress

Speaking at the GMB union Congress today, Keir Starmer made a pledge to repeal the anti-strike laws currently being passed through government, and to champion Labour as the party of the working people.

Addressing GMB members in Brighton, Starmer said workers had paid the price for Labour being in opposition and referred to the Tory ‘attacks’ on working people and the trade union movement.

He referred to the Strikes Bill passing through Parliament again this week as a bill that ‘takes away your hard-earned democratic rights’ and that he will ‘fight and repeal it’, adding – ‘mark my words we will’.

However the Labour leader has been criticised recently for U-turning on pledges, including tuition fees and plans to nationalise water and energy industries, which has left some wary of his promises.

Starmer was also not questioned on his previous opposition to Labour MPs joining picket lines to support striking workers, however he was asked about by a striking Amazon worker in Coventry, who received a large applause from the audience, about the party’s response to the company Amazon refusing to recognise trade unions so far.

In response, the Labour leader said he wanted to see Amazon UK recognise trade unions and referred to the fight for union recognition as a ‘really important campaign and one that I fully support’.

He went on to say that he would talk about the importance of partnering with trade unions to businesses too and in his speeches to CBI and the British Chamber of Commerce going forward, another point to hold his word to.

During his speech he emphasised the role of working people in forming the Labour Party, reflecting: “I accept that the Labour Party did drift away from its fundamental cause of serving working people.

“I want to be clear that everything I do, all the changes we are making, are in the service of this goal, they are grounded in a new project which understands that the Labour party can only restore hope in Britain if we once again become the natural home for working people.”

Starmer said he would ‘work with you’, the unions, to address energy changes to the energy industry going forward, after a clash between the leaders’ views on oil and gas policy and that of the GMB union, who’s general secretary stated on Sunday that Labour had ‘got it wrong’ and risked creating ‘a cliff-edge with oil and gas extraction from the North Sea’.

Starmer promised that Labour would ‘create strong chains that create jobs and skills and decent wages in Britain’.

He went on to state: “decent pay, respect dignity and fairness. Cleaner, safer work new and better infrastructure for Britain, these are the purposes of our party. And they are historic prizes we will win again.”

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

(Photo credit: GMB union / YouTube screenshot)

Left Foot Forward’s trade union reporting is supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust

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