“The government’s anti-strike bill is part of a broader attack on our fundamental democratic rights.”Jeremy Corbyn MP
By Jeremy Corbyn
On Monday, the government’s anti-strike Bill returns to Parliament. This legislation includes a requirement for certain industries (including the health service, rail, education, fire, and border security) to provide ‘minimum service levels’; bosses will be allowed to sue unions and sack employees if these minimum levels are not met.
In passing this legislation, the government shows a fundamental failure to understand why workers are striking in the first place. Doctors and nurses are striking because patients are dying. Teachers are striking because children are suffering. Postal workers are striking because Royal Mail is failing. If the Tories cared about “minimum service levels”, they would support workers’ demands for fully-funded and fully-staffed public services. Instead, by overriding the fundamental right to strike, they are preventing people from fighting for the safety of us all.
The government has done its best to turn workers into public enemies. In scapegoating NHS staff, teachers, railway workers, posties and civil servants, the government is forcing ordinary people to pay the price for a crisis caused by decades of austerity, economic mismanagement, and corporate greed. This price is paid through real-terms cuts to their wages. It’s paid through the stress and anxiety of an increased workload. And it’s paid through public bailouts of failing private companies that continue to destroy the services upon which we all rely.
The government’s anti-strike bill is part of a broader attack on our fundamental democratic rights. The Public Order Bill curtails our right to protest. Voter ID effectively erodes the right to vote for millions of people who lack access to the relevant documentation. I will be standing up in Parliament, speaking out in the strongest terms against any legislation that erodes our democratic rights. I encourage my colleagues from all parties to do the same.
Ultimately, when our democracy is under attack, it’s up to the labour movement to fight back. As well as protecting our right to strike and protest, that means putting forward a vision that redistributes wealth and power in our workplaces and communities. After all, the strikes up and down this country are not just about pay. They are about poverty, hunger, stress, insecurity, inequality, and injustice within our society.
Today’s turbulent terrain and societal fractures cannot be resolved or healed without a politics of hope. A politics that stands up for those who run our public services, teach our children, keep our communities connected, look after us when we are sick, and care for the most vulnerable. A politics that inspires us to believe in a better world, and build a society that cares for everyone and cares for all.