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‘It's time to end the Thatcherite experiment that wrecked Britain’

FBU vows to press Labour to repeal anti-strike laws

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack has called for the immediate scrapping of anti-union laws, declaring that now is the time to “end the Thatcherite experiment that wrecked Britain.”

Speaking at the union’s annual conference in Blackpool today, Mr Wrack said: “Fourteen years of Tory rule have left working people poor, angry and desperate for change. 

“Decades of deregulation, privatisation and attacks on workers have delivered nothing but misery for communities up and down the country.

“We need strong trade unions to turn things around.” 

Under Labour’s New Deal for Working People, party leader Sir Keir Starmer pledged to scrap Minimum Service Levels (MSLs) Bill, which effectively bans workers from striking, within 100 days.

Mr Wrack vowed to press Labour to stick to that pledge: “The next government under Keir Starmer must scrap the anti-union laws that stop workers standing up for themselves.”

Labour-affiliated unions had to pay Mr Starmer a visit two weeks ago after Unite warned that the party’s watered-down workers’ package had become a “charter for bad bosses.”

Mr Wrack spoke of how “unified the unions were in opposition” to Mr Starmer’s dilution of the deal, which prompted Labour to roll back.

He added that it was a “good starting point” in combating future attacks.

Under MSLs the fire services must operate at 73 per cent capacity during strikes.

This could mean that smaller fire stations with three or fewer appliances would still need to be fully operational and crewed during a strike, while control rooms must operate normally.

At a fringe meeting on the legislation on Wednesday evening, Institute of Employment Rights (IER) acting director James Harrison discussed strategies of resistance.

He noted tactics taken by rail union Aslef which, when threatened with work notices by operator LNER to force compliance with MSLs, extended a strike to get the employers to back off. 

He added that MSLs do not affect the ability to impose overtime bans.

The IER has published a pamphlet showing the long history of attempts to curb workers’ power, dating back to Edward I.

Mr Harrison said it illustrates how “sometimes to reassert your rights you need to be on the wrong end of the law.”

He added: “No matter who gets elected, we’ll need to double down our efforts and dig deep as a labour movement to advance our rights once more. Because sometimes, history needs a push!”

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