Lavery warns of workers’ reaction to Trade Union Bill
TORY attempts to crush dissent from cuts by curbing trade union rights will meet “civil disobedience,” Labour MP Ian Lavery has predicted.
The Trade Union Bill took another step closer to becoming law last night as it cleared the Commons despite the protests of progressive MPs.
Mr Lavery, who leads Labour’s Trade Union Group of MPs, called the Bill a “ferocious, full-frontal attack on the trade union movement.”
Despite again refusing to accept online strike ballots, government ministers claimed the Bill was necessary to “modernise” industrial relations.
In an impassioned speech in Parliament, Mr Lavery exposed the real mindset behind the Bill.
“It’s about criminalising working people,” he said.
“It’s about eradicating any resistance, particularly in the public sector, particularly with women — low-paid people in the public sector.
“Why are they bashing them? Why are they putting pay restraints on low-paid people and coming up with these crazy ideas about stripping family tax credits from hard-working, low-paid people?
“They don’t want to give these people the right to fight back and that’s what this Bill is about.
“It’s about eradicating that dissent while the Conservative government is keeping its foot firmly on the neck of the low-paid who are struggling even to make ends meet.”
But Mr Lavery told Tory MPs present in the Commons that resistance to the Bill would not end if the Lords made it law.
“I predict one thing: that ordinary people who are pressurised too much — you will get a reaction,” he warned.
“I predict from the floor of the House of Commons that there will be civil disobedience because bad laws need to be changed.”
MPs also suggested yesterday that, even if the Bill was passed, the Scottish and Welsh governments could refuse to implement it in public services that are devolved, such as schools or hospitals.
Speaking in the Welsh Assembly yesterday, Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “We will be doing all that we can to ensure that where we believe there is a devolution question we will pursue that.
“And, if we can, we will seek to oppose parts of the Trade Union Bill that effect devolved public services.”
SNP MP Chris Stephens, a former Unison trade union rep, said that the Scottish government was also willing to challenge the Bill and predicted it could spark a “constitutional crisis.”
The mayor of London and local councils in England may also be able to block its implementation in services under their control.
A bid to amend the Bill to allow online strike ballots was defeated by 301 votes to 268.
Labour shadow business minister Kevin Brennan said that the government’s “continued refusal to introduce e-balloting alongside secure workplace balloting clearly demonstrates they aren’t serious about modernisation.”