by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
Surprised I am not... Here we go again is also a term that comes to mind...
Was it not Maggie Thatcher who was hellbent to destroy the Trade Unions and their power and she was of the same party. The party has not changed and is still anti-working people, anti-working class. As far as the Tories are concerned Thatcher left unfinished business as she did not manage to destroy the Unions entirely. That is what they are now aiming to do, no doubt.
A new plan by the Tories of the current Con-Dem coalition would make strikes illegal unless at least 50 per cent of union members voted in a ballot. But, general elections are legal even if less than 40% of the electorate vote. Different rules, it would appear, for different people and causes.
Right-wing Tory ministers are pressing David Cameron to include the proposals in the party’s next general election manifesto, so it is understood and this planned legislation would make industrial action illegal unless at least 50 per cent of union members take part in a strike ballot.
Supporters of the threshold – who insist the potential policy is “under active discussion” in Downing Street – believe the plan would prove highly popular with the voters. For voters it would be best to read Tory voters and those that are being whipped up by the right-wing gutter press.
The proposal, however, has divided opinion around the Cabinet table, with the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, understood to be among the leading opponents.
Ministers are also examining new steps to crack down on the Public and Commercial Services union, representing civil servants and local government staff, which is regarded as the most militant in Britain.
The introduction of a threshold has been championed by Boris Johnson, the London Mayor, following clashes with transport unions in the capital. Mr. Cameron has been careful to avoid ruling the idea out, although has stressed he had no plans to press ahead with the move which, in Whitehall speak, which is related to Washington speak, means that they are seriously considering just such a move.
While it had been thought that the proposal had been put on ice in recent months, it would appear, according to rumors, that the policy is being seriously considered within Downing Street.
There is thought to be no prospect of any new trade union legislation while the Coalition is in office – Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, has said publicly that he would oppose it. Mr. McLoughlin, a former trade unionist, has also argued in private against the move. His opposition has proved important because, as Transport Secretary, he is in the forefront of dealing with industrial disputes.
Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, who deals with public sector unions, is also believed to be skeptical about the wisdom of the threshold idea but Tory sources confirmed the issue is being discussed as a possible commitment in the party’s next manifesto. One of the attractions of the policy for supporters would be to put pressure on Ed Miliband, the present leader of the British Labor Party, to state whether supported the move and cast a spotlight on his party’s union links.
It is understood that George Osborne, the Chancellor, and Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, are sympathetic to the introduction of a threshold, although neither has spoken publicly on the issue recently. Other suggestions are altering the law to allow agency workers to cover for staff who are on strike and increasing the notice period unions have to give to employers before industrial action begins.
Trade union legislation has remained largely unchanged since the 1980s, when the Thatcher Government outlawed the closed shop in the workplace, introduced secret ballots for strikes and banned secondary picketing. In an attempt, I hasten to add, to destroy the Trade Unions in Britain altogether and hence the Tories belief that there is unfinished business to deal with.
This proposed legislation should show everyone where each and every individual Tory minister and MP stands when it comes to it and it is time that the people, for most really should regard themselves as working class are they not most wage slaves like everyone else, woke up to the fact that their rights are under threat.
Each and everyone who is a salaried worker, whatever his job, is a wage slave and thus has benefited from the work of the Trade Unions which has often been in blood.
Without the Unions we all will head back to the conditions of Dickensian England, of that we can all be sure.