On Wednesday I went to the Campaign for Trade Union Freedoms, Institute of Employment rights and CLASS meeting on #KillTheBill and the new anti-union laws.
The platform had pretty much every general secretary down to speak, plus a few others, so I thought there wouldn’t be much time, if any, to speak from the floor, but a few speakers waived their speeches to allow discussion.
There was a good few hundred in attendance, though a large bias to union organisers, or full time officers. There was a mood to fight, and people were upbeat about the fight ahead.
The initial “box clever”, “keep your powder dry” attitude that came from the TUC and some unions immediately after the first reading in parliament was not present in speeches. Many general secretaries gave quite militant speeches. Mark Serwotka, general secretary of PCS, explicitly called for breaking the laws if they are passed. Len McClusky, general secretary of Unite, did the same in a more roundabout way. Others echoed this.
Many talked about how we must fight these laws. Less people talked about fighting to repeal all of the anti-union laws and fighting for a real right to strike, which we don’t currently have in this country. A lot of focus was on amendments in parliament, legal challenges and on a lobby in November and the demonstration at Tory Party conference in Manchester on 4th Oct in Manchester.
We took a petition calling for a national demonstration specifically on the right to strike, as close to the second reading of the bill in september as possible. Len McClusky signed this but would not call for it from the platform.
I spoke criticising Len McClusky for saying that it is likely that these laws will pass. Whether they pass or not depends on what we do now. I described that some branches had already got together to mobilise locally, and advertised our Tory Hypocrite action on August 8th. And to impress urgency and that the labour movement, all of us and those outside of the room need to be leading this, with local mobilising committees, not leaving it to the union leaders.
To see details of our “high court injunction” stunt against Iain Duncan-Smith on 8th August see – https://www.facebook.com/events/489760541178388/