WORKERS should consider a general strike to defeat the Tories’ new anti-union laws, trade unions affirmed yesterday.
Congress unanimously passed a softer motion damning the Trade Union Bill as an attempt to “outlaw legitimate protest, stifle free speech and choke off the resources of [the Tories’] political opponents.”
The Bill, which passed its second reading in the Commons yesterday with a majority of 33, imposes strike ballot thresholds and places heavy restrictions on picketing and union political funds.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said it sought “to reduce trade unions to no more than employment advice agencies.”
He accused the government of being “drunk on class politics” and reiterated his warning that it may be necessary to take action outside the law.
Aslef national organiser Simon Weller warned that the headlines over strike thresholds were distracting from the more dangerous restrictions on picketing “like a magic show.”
Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists chief executive Joanna Brown said the government was “hypocritical” for not allowing unions to employ modern voting techniques.
“Electronic balloting has to be the way to go,” she said.
NUT general secretary Christine Blower suggested the TUC emulate the “mass movement” created by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign.
“This is a moment to build the trade union movement,” she said.
But although the negotiated wording called for a “co-ordinated national day of action,” a second successful motion calling for the TUC to consider organising a general strike proved controversial.
The motion, moved by transport union RMT, said the TUC general council should consider “the possibility of assisting in organising generalised strike action should legal action be taken against any affiliate in connection with these new laws.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the meaning of the statement was “unclear.”
But RMT president Peter Pinkney blasted: “I have no idea what the problem with the words … is.
“It can mean whatever you want it to mean.
“We should stand up and say: we’re at war with you. We should get off our knees and show them we’re ready to fight.”