Rally in Central London Rejects the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill
Union leaders, in a series of speeches at a rally in central London, vowed to counter the UK Government’s contentious legislation on maintaining minimum service levels during strikes. The Parliament Square rally attracted more than a hundred participants, all waving colourful union flags, expressing support for the union leaders’ criticisms of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill.
“We will not allow our members to be dismissed. We will not allow our members to be disciplined. We will defy this law,” proclaimed Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.
Lynch further rallied for a “mass campaign of workplace disobedience” if the bill gets enacted, advocating for a resistance stance against any work notices issued by the employer or the Government. Lynch also called on Labour MPs to oppose the legislation and go on record promising to repeal it in full within 100 days of a Labour government being elected.
“You must not only robustly oppose this Bill, it must be repealed and you must go on the record again during this debate that it will be repealed in full within 100 days of a Labour government being elected,” Lynch urged.
The rally also saw the demand for a Bill of rights that upholds the right to strike as a civil and human right, voiced by both Lynch and Paul Nowak, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC). Nowak warned the government of the electoral price they would have to pay if they didn’t deliver a “new deal” for working people.
“Let’s vote them out at the next election,” Nowak urged the crowd, vowing to challenge the Government legally and industrially should the bill become law.
The controversial legislation has faced stern opposition, with union members arguing that it undermines basic democratic rights, including the right to strike. The National Education Union’s joint general secretary, Kevin Courtney, charged the government with continuing Margaret Thatcher’s trajectory, instead of addressing the fact that nurses and school support staff are relying on foodbanks.
“It shouldn’t be about fining unions and sacking workers, it should be about fining this Government and sacking the ministers,” Courtney argued.
Labour MP Jo Stevens reiterated the party’s promise to repeal the Bill, calling it a “vindictive attack on working people.”