The labour movement is under unprecedented threat from the Tory Trade Union Bill – but the Morning Star will be there every step of the way in the fightback, says STEVE SWEENEY, Star campaign manager.
The Tories have declared an all-out war on the trade unions.
On top of introducing unrealistic ballot thresholds and placing further restrictions on the ability to defend members through the nefarious Trade Union Bill, the latest news that public-sector employees will no longer have their union subs deducted at source is an attempt to bankrupt and further weaken trade unions.
The threat posed by this should not be underestimated.
Around 3.8 million members currently have their subscriptions deducted in this way, totalling around 54 per cent of public-sector workers.
With trade union density higher in the public sector and proposed four-year pay freezes announced in George Osborne’s “emergency” Budget, it is not difficult to see why the Tories want to push this legislation through. This is class war.
The Tories claim to be opposed to unnecessary red tape when it comes to health and safety and the “right to hire and fire,” however, their hypocrisy is exposed as they try to tie the trade unions up with layers of bureaucracy through the Trade Union Bill.
From ballot thresholds and the criminalisation of picketing to the policing of social media, attacks on political funding and legalising employers’ use of agency staff as scab labour, the Trade Union Bill threatens each and every one of us.
Uniting under the slogan “Trade union rights are human rights” a packed meeting hosted by the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom, Class, the Institute of Employment Rights and the People’s Assembly last week was the first in the campaign to “Kill the Bill.”
The message that this is a campaign we can’t afford to lose, and which needs to be fought inside and outside Parliament on a broad canvas, linking trade unions to community and campaigning groups, was underlined at a crowded session at the Red Star Festival in London on Saturday, jointly organised by the Morning Star.
We have been here before with the hated Industrial Relations Act of 1971, imposed by the Tory government of Ted Heath, with much of the groundwork being laid by the previous Labour government through the In Place of Strife white paper.
Unions were able to deal with the Act at the time through industrial action and the building of a mass movement. Heath was later sent packing at the hands of the miners and the Act was repealed by the 1974 Labour government.
However, this was a period prior to the heavy defeats inflicted during the ’80s and confidence and trade union density was much higher.
The momentum gathering behind the Jeremy Corbyn campaign shows what can be achieved when a voice is given to those who have been abandoned by the neoliberalism of the Tories and New Labour.
The campaign is shifting the terms of the debate and breathing new life into the case for a genuine socialist alternative to endless austerity.
It puts people first and challenges the myth that business interests reign supreme.
The Morning Star is now more critical than ever as “the voice of the resistance.” No other paper covers and supports the major issues and campaigns of the movement.
The Morning Star is at the centre of the Kill the Bill campaign and will be reporting and supporting the many meetings, marches, rallies and groups that will undoubtedly be established in the fight to defeat it.
In order to achieve this, we need your support. That means helping us to broaden our influence, fulfil our potential in the labour movement and ensure that we have the resources that are so desperately needed to fund our plans.
We do not have the same resources that the bourgeois capitalist press can rely on.
There are no billionaire oligarchs or non-doms backing the Morning Star.
We are wholly owned and supported by our shareholders from individuals to trade unions, including Community, CWU, FBU, GMB, NUM, POA, RMT, Ucatt and Unite.
Unlike capitalist companies, you don’t get a return in pounds and pence, but, even better, you get a freshly printed socialist newspaper six days a week.
We are appealing directly to you, our readers and supporters, to make sure that you become a shareholder, or increase your existing shareholding, in the Morning Star.
Encourage your trade union branch or other progressive organisation to do the same. This is a critical time for the movement and your voice and your paper are a vital tool in the fight in the class war. Don’t be without it.
Steve Sweeney is Morning Star campaigns manager. To become a shareholder visit morningstaronline.co.uk/support.
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Our campaigns manager would be happy to arrange a speaker for your branch/trades council/organisation.