Unions slam proposal to let agency workers cover for striking staff
Unions have reacted with anger to planned legal changes to allow agency workers to fill in for striking staff. They’ve branded the government as “desperate to distract from its numerous failings”.
The government devised the plan in response to rail strikes later in June because of disputes over pay, jobs, pensions and conditions.
The move would involve reversing a restriction which prevents employers from hiring agency workers to cover for striking staff. And it would apply to all sectors, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
Using agency workers to attempt to break rail strikes will risk passenger safety.
A stupid idea.
— Trades Union Congress (@The_TUC) June 11, 2022
‘Red meat to rebellious back benchers’
TUC deputy general secretary Paul Nowak said:
This Government is desperate to distract from its numerous failings by picking a fight with unions.
Allowing agency staff to replace striking workers would undermine the right to strike and be extremely reckless.
Bringing in less qualified and experienced staff to deliver important services would create genuine safety risks for the public and for the workforce.
Using agency workers to try and break strikes would put these workers in an appalling situation, worsen disputes and poison industrial relations.
Some may not realise until it is too late that they are being asked to break a strike.
Having repeatedly promised a high-wage economy, ministers now seem determined to reduce workers’ bargaining power and to make it harder for working people to win fair pay and conditions.
Let’s call this out for what it is. The PM is throwing red meat to his rebellious backbenchers to try and shore up his position.
Making industrial action illegal
Transport secretary Grant Shapps told the Sunday Telegraph that any legal intervention would not affect “this particular set of strikes” in June. But should the action continue, then “further measures certainly would come in during this particular dispute, if it can’t be resolved”.
Meanwhile the government does have the power to facilitate a resolution to the dispute, by not undermining the strikes and facilitating negotiations between transport companies and unions.
Writing in the Sun on Sunday 12 June, Shapps said the government could also ban workers from working overtime to make back pay lost during industrial action.
In May, he had told the Sunday Telegraph that ministers were looking at drawing up laws which would make industrial action illegal unless a certain number of staff are working.
‘The most restrictive anti-democratic trade union laws’
Meanwhile, Rail, Maritime and Transport union general secretary Mick Lynch said:
Grant Shapps needs to stop smearing the RMT and unshackle the rail operating companies so they can come to a negotiated settlement that can end this dispute.
Railway workers voted overwhelmingly for strike action in defence of their jobs and for a pay rise that deals with the rising cost of living.
It is insulting to them to suggest they do not understand the issues that affect their daily lives or cannot make a democratic decision by themselves.
We already have the most restrictive anti-democratic trade union laws in western Europe and if the Government attempts to reduce our rights further, the RMT along with the rest of the trade union movement will mount the fiercest resistance possible.
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.
Leave a ReplyYou must be logged in to leave a comment.Join the conversation
Please read our comment moderation policy here.