Mick Lynch makes powerful call to fight for union freedom #TUC23


“We will stand up for our members and for our place in the history of our movement”

Mick Lynch, RMT General Secretary

By Matt Willgress, Labour Outlook

A well-attended meeting hosted by the Institute of Employment Rights and Campaign for Trade Union Freedom at TUC Congress in Sunday heard voices from across the Labour movement and beyond on the next steps in the fight for workers’ rights.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch received a warm and loud welcome from the crowd when he outlined how his union will keep fighting for their members, whatever anti-union laws are thrown at them.

He warned that the Tories “will attempt to break our unions” and “put us out of business” if we don’t have a United response to the new anti-strike law, which is why the RMT, FBU and others are advocating “a stance of non-compliance” – whilst protecting members – at the TUC Congress.

Moving forward, we need to get rid of this Government, and hold Labour to its promises to repeal anti-union legislation , but we can’t wait until an election, the movement needs to collectively say now that “We refuse to comply” and not “cow and bow before these repressive laws.”

He concluded by saying “We will stand up for our members and for our place in the history of our movement” by resisting the Tories’ anti-union laws.

Professor Keith Ewing of CTUF and the IER warnned that with the anti-strike Bill now passed is an attempt to effectively ban the right to strike in public services, and gave a historical perspective on attacks on trade unions and their rights from the British state over many decades.

Lord John Hendy QC added that on Tuesday at TUC Congress, the union movement has an opportunity to say to the Labour Party that we must change the law and repeal the anti-trade union legislation. There should quite simply be no retreat from the New Deal for Working People.

In this context, he warned of the dangers of Keir Starmer backtracking from promises to repeal anti-union legislation if Labour forms the next Government.

Professor Lydia Hayes of the University of Liverpool explained some of her recent research, and expressed grave concern at how many people who are working but in poverty do not know about their rights, both in terms of employment rights and access to welfare.

This deeply effects many peoples’ incomes but also their physical and mental health, at a time when millions can’t even feed their household during the deep cost-of-living crisis. She concluded that “workers need more and it’s their right in a democratic society to advance their interests.”

NEU General Secretary Daniel Kebede also struck a fighting tone, saying “They can legislate as much as they want, we are still going to take on national disputes and keep fighting.”

Other speakers included Liz McKean  from War on Want, who linked the recent anti-strike legislation to other authoritarian pieces of legislation including the Policing Bill, the Public Order Act, and now the anti-boycott Bill which is currently going through Parliament – and the event was chaired by BFAWU General Secretary Sarah Woolley.

Featured image: Mick Lynch addresses the IER fringe at Trades Union Congress 2023. Photo credit: IER

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