The upcoming congress of the Scottish TUC, which takes place from 17-19 April, will see delegates debate several motions on fighting anti-strike laws.
These correctly call for the labour movement to fight for the repeal of all anti-union and anti-strike laws, and acknowledge the failure of 13 years of Labour government to make any dent in this legislative regime. A motion from Unite also calls for pressure on Labour to commit to repealing all these laws within 12 months of taking office. We republish the motions below as good examples of policies that should be debated and taken up across the movement.
The motions also call for employment law to be devolved to Scotland, as it currently is to Northern Ireland, which allowed socialist MLA Gerry Carroll to propose a Trade Union Freedom Bill at Stormont.
Defending Trade Union Freedom (proposed by STUC General Council)
“That this Congress believes we are witnessing a new era of industrial struggle as increasing numbers of workers take action to secure decent pay and protect their jobs, terms and conditions. Years of austerity, now compounded by the economic instability from Brexit, the pandemic and a deepening cost of living crisis have resulted in an increase and growing escalation of disputes across private, public and third sectors.
“Congress believes that public sympathy remains with workers despite the hostility shown by sections of the media towards unions and trade union leaders.
“Congress believes that this growing movement, and the significant wins that unions have delivered, running alongside a heightened political awareness is viewed as a threat to the power and narrative of the UK Government.
“Congress believes that the UK Government’s response to introduce further anti-trade union legislation, including restricting the right to strike, as a fundamental attack on trade union freedom and a violation of human rights.
“Congress calls upon the STUC General Council to vigorously oppose any new anti-trade union legislation and campaign effectively:
- for the devolution of employment law to Scotland;
- for the repeal of all current anti-trade union legislation;
- for the Scottish Government, COSLA and all employers to respect collective bargaining arrangements where they currently exist;
- for the extension of collective bargaining in Scotland under the auspices of Fair Work;
- to ensure Scottish Government deliver on their commitment for Scotland to become a Fair Work nation by 2025; and
- in support of the TUC, and TUC-affiliated unions, campaigns, and legal challenges to protect the right to strike and challenge the regulations on the use of agency workers to fill in for striking workers.”
Urgent Need to Devolve Employment Law to Scotland (proposed by Inverness and District Trade Union Council)
“That this Congress notes the British Conservative Government is not only pushing through the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill but was actively considering proposals to ban Border Force staff from joining a trade union. The latter not been pursued due to the protections of the ECHR. These unwanted proposals build on past legislation such as the Trade Union Act (2016).
“The Bill applies throughout Britain as Employment Law is under the reserved remit of Westminster. In the Smith Commission, a possible change failed to find consensual support and hence employment law stayed reserved. Scottish Labour continues to support Westminster to legislate employment law: a grievous mistake. We are in the position that the Scottish Government is engaged in pay talks with public service unions but the very framework of these laws is not in their control.
“Rather it is in the hands of those who are absolutely opposed to workers’ rights, as the Conservative’s look to implement its slash and burn Brexit Freedoms Bill, pass the specific Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill and considers a British Bill on Human Rights to replace the ECHR which will decimate the protections that our members enjoy.
“Thus, the need for urgent action.
“The democratic deficit results in past legislation such as Thatcherite Trade Union Act 1984 to the Trade Union and Labour Act 1992 not being repealed by the British Labour Government.
“We must thus take the responsibility to safeguard workers’ rights in law under the Scottish Parliament. We must not only fight these anti-trade union laws (with specific campaigning on the above Retained EU Law Bill) but Congress resolves that the STUC General Council therefore will campaign for the devolving of Employment Rights with like-minded parties to not only Westminster but all within Scottish civil society.”
Trade Union and Employment Rights (proposed by Unite)
“That this Congress condemns the renewed attack on trade union rights (including the introduction of legislation on the use of agency labour to break strikes and proposals to undermine industrial action in the transport sector through the so-called Minimum Services Bill) and calls for the repeal of all anti-union laws.
“Congress also condemns the fact that trade union rights could also be undermined by other legislation such as the Public Order Bill and the Retained EU Law Bill.
“Congress believes that attacks on trade union rights and on employment rights more widely further demonstrates the case for the devolution of employment law.
“Congress, therefore, calls upon the STUC General Council to organise a campaign for the repeal of all anti-union laws, the devolution of employment law, opposition to any further attacks on trade union rights and the introduction of a Bill of Rights providing positive employment and trade union rights – including strong rights to collectively bargain and to
take strike action.
“In the event of a Labour Government elected in the next two years, Congress calls on that Labour Government to repeal all anti-trade union laws within 12 months of gaining office.”