TUC Congress: Mick Lynch holds Labour to account on New Deal for Workers

Labour must "unshackle our unions" demands Lynch

Mick Lynch

Mick Lynch, leader of the RMT union, has warned Labour against sliding back on its commitments to a ‘New Deal for Working People’ Green Paper and avoid ‘diluting’ their promises, during a fringe event at the TUC Congress.

The Paper was discussed by union general secretaries who highlighted the current restrictive state of UK trade union legislation and pressed for trade unions to be vigilant at holding the Labour Party to account on their commitments.   

Shadow Employment Minister, Justin Madders MP made the case for Labour’s green paper, saying it was the best in a generation, and that the Labour government was on course to deliver the best deal for workers.

Madders emphasised Labour’s commitment to repeal the Minimum Services Law, along with a commitment to end fire and rehire and a ban to zero hour contracts, and to bring in day-one rights in work and central collective bargaining.

“What we need is the full, fat package,” responded Lynch. “The new deal for workers has got to be undiluted, unfiltered, unstrained. We want the lot and then we want another phase of it.”

He added: “Of course it’s not going to be perfect, nothing’s perfect and that’s why they call it a struggle it goes on and on.”

Lynch also called on Labour to go further and put the right to strike on statute.

“What we’ve had over the last 40 years, is continuous attacks on our movement, we have to reset the whole thing,” said Lynch.

“We’d like you to put on statute the right to strike, we’ve never had the right to strike.

“We are indemnified by the consequences of breaking our contract of employment and that’s still the case. We need sectoral bargaining, and I hope we’re not going to hear that this will be confined to the care sector as an experiment. We need sectoral bargaining in all of our industries.”

Lynch also highlighted the huge growth of outsourcing labour which was “undermining our class” and warned of outsourcers lobbying politicians.

“The outsources are lobbying, meeting senior officials in order to dilute this package, and we cannot allow that to happen.

“We cannot allow the people that we trust, and who are in this room, and speaking to us this week, Angela and the whole team, to be forced out of their positions. Because I know, that on the day after that election, there’s a certain character from the House of Lords whose going to be dictating who will be in the Cabinet.

“This side of the Labour movement has to put the shoulder to the wheel and support the people that are committed to supporting us. And that’s what we must do as a Labour movement, not get involved in petty arguments, but figure out which direction we’re pushing in the interest of our class. And that’s got to be behind Angela, the transport team and all the teams that are coming out with good stuff now.”

The final message to the Labour frontbench was a plea to ‘unshackle’ the unions.

“Unshackle our unions, let us do the job that we are here to do, we can do it but we need to be free to do it under our rules, not under repressive legislation.”  

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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