Editorial

“If you haven’t got a programme, a bogey man will do.” Aneurin Bevan

The UK Government introduced a new Bill to the Westminster Parliament which will limit the rights of workers to take industrial action.

The (Strikes Minimum Service Levels) Bill was brought before MPs on Tuesday 10th of January 2023. It comes at a time when rising costs of energy, food and housing have hit workers hard struggling with wages which have not kept pace with inflation. The very workers who are forced to take industrial action now are the ones the whole country relied most upon during the first 2 years of Covid – especially during lockdown.

It seems the value the Tories place on those who kept this country going during those times is non-existent. This at a time when those very same MPs have been raking in extra cash to their own pockets through extra earnings, gifts and donations: “Moral principle is a looser bond than pecuniary interest”. Abraham Lincoln

The Bill, if it becomes law – and the Tories have a comfortable majority – will limit the action public service workers can take, the very people who protect us the most – the firefighters, the nurses, the paramedics – to name but a few. Because the plans are to widen these powers to limit the rights of workers to withdraw their labour to even more sectors.

The sectors the legislation includes are:

  • health services
  • education services
  • fire and rescue services
  • transport services
  • decommissioning of nuclear installations and management of radioactive waste and spent fuel
  • border security

Speaking about the Bill Business Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“The first job of any government is to keep the public safe. Because whilst we absolutely believe in the ability to strike, we are duty-bound to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British people.

“I am introducing a bill that will give government the power to ensure that vital public services will have to maintain a basic function, by delivering minimum safety levels ensuring that lives and livelihoods are not lost.

“We do not want to have to use this legislation unless we have to, but we must ensure the safety of the British public.”

During this Parliament Tory MPs have topped up their basic salaries of £84,144 with a combined total of £76million in extra payments for earnings, donations and gifts. (The Westminster Accounts)

This is a Tory Government the people of Scotland did not vote for (since the middle of the last century) bringing in laws now to damage the very fabric of our society – The right to withdraw one’s labour.

It was Aneurin Bevan who said “The Tories, every election, must have a bogey man. If you haven’t got a programme, a bogey man will do.” And that is what they are doing, firstly with asylum seekers and now with frontline workers. Deflecting from their disastrous economic and constitutional policies which saw us leave the largest free trade market in the world on an advisory referendum when only England and Wales voted to Leave.

Having underfunded and undermined the work of the NHS for decades, awarded PPE contracts to their pals, partied whilst people died – this Tory Government, instead of acknowledging and rewarding those who kept society going in its time of need – is taking away their fundamental human right to withdraw their labour.

It is the Tory Government that is playing fast and loose with the safety and rights of the people.

man wearing blue scrub suit and mask sitting on bench
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

Fiona Grahame

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