On 2 November I spoke at the TUC rally against the Trade Union Bill at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster. Here is my speech.
2 November, 2015
Today is the anniversary of the deaths of four firefighters at a fire in Warwickshire in 2007. Four workers; four members of our union.
We investigated that incident – as part of fighting for justice, as part of fighting for compensation – and as part of trying to make the workplace safer.
That investigation was long and complex. It took years. In fact, the final report from the FBU has only just been published, after legal complications.
And I challenge any MP or Cabinet Minister to say that is not vital work on behalf of workers and on behalf of our communities.
This Bill strikes at the heart of our union organisation.
It is about the right to strike, but it is about much more than that. It is an attack on the right to organise; an attack on workers’ rights.
The government, which claims to be against red tape, intends to massively increase the red tape on union – including bizarre policing systems for social media – for Twitter and Facebook.
They will be impossible to enforce and let us be clear: They should be dumped or ignored like the rest of this undemocratic Bill.
The Tories intend to use their accidental majority in the Commons to force this through. Some will say that’s it – it’s law, we need to just get on with it.
Instead, we should see today’s event and the Parliamentary debate as not the end of the process but as the start.
Our audience today is in that building – but our audience tomorrow has to be in the factories, offices, schools and hospitals across the country.
Our audience starts with the six million workers who are in trade unions but reaches to all those who have to work for a living and who want decent pay, and decent working conditions.
The Tories are introducing this legislation for a reason.
They intend to devastate public services, they intend to destroy tens of thousands of jobs, and they intend to attack wages and force down living standards; to force workers to pay the price of economic crisis and failure.
And they know that trade unions are the line of resistance.
They know that – we need to realise it too.
Our threat to them, our ability to resist, is only of value if we use it.
Today, we need to set out the task of building a mass movement, rooted in every workplace and every community.
That movement should set out the aim of defeating this government – not of waiting until 2020 but of defeating the plans they have set out for us as soon as possible.
That cannot be conjured by magic. It will take hard work, discussion and campaigning. But our movement has done it before.
Our movement has defeated anti-union laws before – and done so after they have been passed in Parliament.
The government intends to attack in ways we have not seen in recent history. We will have to fight back in kind.
Standing together, organising together, striking together – we can make any law they bring in irrelevant.
Get organised, stand up and fight back.
FBU General Secretary
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