TRANSPORT workers vowed yesterday to defy the Tories with strikes and occupations to smash undemocratic anti-trade union laws.
Last year’s Trade Union Act year represents one of the most serious attacks on the trade union movement for many years, delegates at TSSA conference in Liverpool heard.
Network south delegate Dave Barnes reminded delegates of the 2009 Thomas Cook dispute in Ireland, when former TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty joined members in occupying the travel agent’s closure-threatened Dublin offices.
Mr Doherty and his comrades were threatened with jail and the even the High Court tried to crush the four-day sit-in, but workers’ action pushed the company into talks.
“If it is necessary for Manuel [Cortes, the current general secretary] to go to prison so be it,” Mr Barnes joked as he promised the union would start a campaign for his release.
He told conference: “We need to move from simply opposing the act to defying it.”
Mr Barnes warned that the Trade Union Act was “a fundamental attack on our democracy.”
Measures introduced under the Act place serious restrictions on the right for unions to take lawful industrial action.
Transport workers were in the firing line as the government “aggressively” pushes employers to use the law to break union resistance to privatisatuon and attacks on terms and conditions, Mr Barnes said.
“It is the tradition of our movement to break unjust laws.”
Mr Cortes told the Star: “If our members vote to take strike action this union will back them despite what the law says.”