Sharon Hodgson

Disclaimer: As an election has been called, there are currently no MPs.

ECHO COLUMN: Tories are bulldozing workers' rights

Tories are bulldozing workers' rights

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Rishi Sunak has proven unable to deliver the leadership required to get us through this economic crisis, so has decided to bulldoze workers’ rights.

All workers find themselves paid less and taxed more after 13 years of Conservative managed decline, but this government continues to shirk from coming to the table to negotiate with the public sector workers they pay, until the very last minute, if at all.

The government’s Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) bill, currently going through the legislative stages in the Lords, has shown that the Tories have failed in their argument and their approach to settling the worst strikes in decades.

Under the bill, workers would be identified to provide a minimum level of service set by the minister – of course it feels like a luxury for many public sectors to meet minimum levels of suitable service on non-striking days as it is. But instead of the onus being put onto employers and the Government, trade unions would have their protections from legal action slashed, being obliged to take “reasonable steps” to ensure the workers they support and protect comply with the arbitrary levels.

This unworkable legislation – which fails to offer clear definitions and has lacked consultation – could prevent some sectors from striking at all.

Their argument is that it will bring us in line with many European states. But that is misleading; in many of those European countries, unionised workers have wider protections to strike, required negotiations and the power to take it to court.

British workers must already navigate numerous obstacles if they seek legal industrial action – something which we must remember is a last resort for workers. The Tories’ bill sets no rules for how your union can challenge a work notice, in effect taking away their capacity to protect you if you strike despite minimum service levels – it has been labelled as the Sack the Nurses Bill for these reasons.

It is abundantly clear that if you are a working person in modern Britain, this Conservative government is no friend of yours. Only Labour will prioritise ordinary households and deliver for working people.

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