"No-none remembers those that comply with oppression”
Unions have overwhelmingly supported a campaign of non-compliance against the government’s anti-strikes law in a historic motion.
Unions passed the motion in the TUC Congress, brought by the RMT and NASUWT unions, that called for building union coalitions to campaign for non-compliance against minimum service levels and against further restrictive trade union legislation.
Dr Partick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union said this was not a campaign of ‘lawbreaking’ but of ‘resistance’, and slammed the Strikes Act as ‘egregious, pernicious, spiteful and vindictive.’
“We are putting this government on notice,” said Dr Roach. “That we will defeat this legislation in our workplaces and in the ILO.
“There are those out there that will say it’s a campaign of lawbreaking by trade unions. But I say that this, our movement is built on resistance and our resistance is the hope for working people. It’s the government that’s on the wrong side of the law and we are the ones on the right side of history.”
He argued how minimum service levels had already been undermined by the government’s ‘assault on our public services’.
“The government’s systematic assault on our public services has left our key workers broken, our schools crumbling, unable to recruit and retain teachers and support staff and pushed our health services to the brink of collapse.
“It’s this government that has failed to maintain the minimum service levels needed to protect the public, them, not us.
“This government of law-breakers now wants to break the will of working people and we will not stand by and let that happen,” added Dr Roach.
The Strikes Bill gives the government sweeping powers to extend minimum service levels across the economy which could force striking workers back to work, or risk losing their job.
The TUC announced at the start of the Congress that it has reported the UK government to the UN over the “unworkable” anti-strikes laws.
Humza Yousaf, First Minister of Scotland, has pledged that the Scottish Government will not enforce a single work notice under the Bill.
Whilst the Labour Party has committed to repealing the Bill in the first 100 days of coming into office, if they win the next general election.
However Mick Lynch warned that, even if Labour followed through with their promise, the legislation could still be on the statute book well into 2025.
“The notion that we will tell our rank and file picket supervisors to instruct their work mates to go past their own picket line is a nonsense. We will not be complying with that, we will not accept it and we just won’t do it,” said Lynch.
“Our stance is non-compliance, that’s what we’ve got to deliver.”
Lynch called for unions to bring in a special congress to work out exactly what unions will actually do to not comply with the legislation, in a non-law-breaking way.
Lynch ended by reminding the Congress of historic fights in the trade union movement against oppression such as the Tolpuddle Martyrs and 1926 Miners’ Strike, stating: “No-none remembers those that comply with oppression”.
Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues
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