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Wednesday 26th
posted by Zoe Streatfield in Britain

Unpopular Tory Bill must be challenged industrially – STUC

THE Tories’ Trade Union Bill directly attacks unions because they form a “key part of the struggle against austerity,” a packed-out conference heard yesterday.

Speaking to hundreds of trade union delegates in Glasgow, STUC deputy general secretary Dave Moxham presented evidence showing that the public supports the right to strike in principle.

In particular, a majority oppose the Bill’s green light for using agency workers to break strike action.

The conference brought together leading union activists to formulate a strategy to oppose the Bill in Scotland and at the British level.

Speakers agreed that unions should organise a unified and industrial response, rather than simply challenging the Bill legally.

Contributions from the floor highlighted the importance of “educating and organising trade union members” and “mobilising public support” to shape opposition to the Bill, rather than building a campaign around public opinion.

Unison delegate Brian Smith warned that trade unionists had to win the ideological argument that “trade unions are a force for opposing austerity and fighting for collective welfare.”

He added that an attack on collective action must be met with a collective action response.

STUC general secretary Grahame Smith attacked “unacceptable” proposals to ban check-off — the system of employers deducting subscriptions from workers’ pay on behalf of unions — in the public sector and impose restrictions on facility time.

Mr Smith argued that if the Westminster government was going to take these steps to save taxpayers’ money, it would infringe on Holyrood’s financial autonomy.

He called on the Scottish government and local authorities to oppose such measures.

Mr Smith said that the Scottish government and NHS Scotland had been operating “effective partnership arrangements with the unions” and that Westminster had no right to interfere with “good and effective industrial relations with its recognised unions.”

Calls were made to support the People’s Assembly demonstration in Dunfermline on October 3 and the TUC-backed march and rally at the Tory Party conference in Manchester on October 4.