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Resist – Repeal – Replace! Taking on the anti-union laws this May Day

“The very worst of employers have imposed fire & rehire on nearly 10% of the labour force, sacking workers & re-engaging on inferior terms.”

Andy Green, Campaign for Trade Union Freedom

By Andy Green, Secretary, Campaign for Trade Union Freedom

For 40 years workers in the UK have suffered from the effects of a raft of anti-union laws introduced in the 1980s during the first wave of neo-liberalism to hit European shores.

There is now a falsification of history taking place that seeks to portray the 1970s as a period of hardship and great difficulty for the many but the reality is the reverse; that was the decade when unions were at their strongest, shop stewards were at their most confident and inequality in Britain was at its lowest, a greater share of the national pie went to workers as wages and salaries.

Fast forward to the recent period of austerity imposed from 2010. Average wages have not increased in real terms for 12 years; 5.1 million workers earn less that the real Living Wage (£9.30/hour); 1 million workers are on zero hours contacts and 75% of workers are not covered by a union negotiated collective agreement, meaning terms and conditions for the majority were unilaterally determined by the boss.

Add on the Covid crisis. Thousands have died; workers have died at work because employers failed to implement safety laws and the HSE failed to enforce the law. Those in insecure work were more likely to die and Statutory Sick Pay is so low that infected workers had no chance of isolating, so necessary to beat the virus. And the very worst of employers have imposed fire and rehire on nearly 10% of the labour force, sacking workers and re-engaging on inferior terms.

That’s why the joint Campaign for Trade Union Freedom and Institute of Employment Rights rally on May Day is being held under the slogan of Resist>Repeal>Replace.

We are bringing together union activists and officers at the cutting edge of today’s struggles – at Go North Western and Uber; shop workers’ leader on fire and rehire; the latest way of attacking workers’ rights with freeports. Speakers on some victories and advances – the Shrewsbury campaign and the Pro Act in the United States. Resistance to some setbacks, campaigning against the advance of pay review bodies at the expense of collective bargaining and anti-union laws in Australia. Plus, highlighting the impact of Covid on BAME workers.

The Institute particularly worked with Labour in drawing up the most far reaching plans to deal with these reverses and set workers and their unions on a forward march. Nothing has changed to make those plans any less important, they become more pressing by the day. We have two prominent advocates for the new laws and of course Labour’s Shadow Minister with responsibility for this brief.

There can be no better place to be on May Day morning – make sure you tune in – register at https://tinyurl.com/UnionPower2021

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