New Labour and Tories unite against workers rights

First, the honorable men and women who voted to strenghen the rights of working people:

Richard Burden, Ronnie Campbell, Mick Clapham, Katy Clark, Frank Cook, Jeremy Corbyn, Jim Cousins, Jon Cruddas, John Cummings, Dai Davies, David Drew, Bill Etherington, Mark Fisher, Paul Flynn, George Galloway, Neil Gerrard, Ian Gibson, Roger Godsiff, Dai Havard, Kate Hoey, Paul Holmes, Brian Iddon, Eric Illsley, Glenda Jackson, Brian Jenkins, Lynne Jones, John Leech, Elfyn Llwyd, Andrew Mackinlay, Gordon Marsden, Bob Marshall-Andrews, Chris McCafferty, John McDonnell, Michael Meacher, Andrew Miller, Austin Mitchell, Doug Naysmith, Dr Nick Palmer, Andrew Pelling, Adam Price, Gwyn Prosser, Linda Riordan, Jim Sheridan, Alan Simpson, Marsha Singh, Dennis Skinner, Ian Stewart, Richard Taylor, Paul Truswell, Bob Wareing, Hywel Williams, David Winnick, Tony Wright, Andrew Dismore, David Taylor

Second, René Lavanchy reports on the shameful affair in the Tribune:

GORDON BROWN faced down the biggest backbench revolt of his premiership this week as 44 MPs voted against the Government in support of an amendment to the Employment Bill that would boost trade union rights.

Ministers also faced down a challenge to the bill that would strengthen unions’ powers to expel members of the British National Party and other extremist political parties.

Labour’s John McDonnell put forward an amendment, supported by the TUC and all its member unions, which would have made it easier for unions to ballot their members for industrial action by requiring employers to help them collect the contact details of their members.

But opposition from ministers and the Tories – together with a three-line Labour whip – meant he was heavily defeated.

Mr McDonnell said afterwards: “This is a huge rebellion in a by-election week and sends out the clearest possible signal to the Government that we are not doing enough on trade union rights.

“Our supporters will not understand why the Government is prepared to fall over backwards to rescue the bankers but will do nothing to protect workers as the recession begins to bite.”

The Conservatives vigorously opposed the amendment, with shadow business minister Jonathan Djanogly saying: “Here the true face and belief of the hard left of the Labour party is exposed and it is not a pretty sight for business.”

This is the third time Mr McDonnell has sought to overturn restrictions on trade union activity. Last year, his trade union freedom bill was twice talked out of Parliament.

In debate, Mr McDonnell and his supporters were at pains to argue that unions are unfairly hamstrung because industrial action can be thwarted on legal technicalities, such as failing to ballot every single member.

Labour MP Andrew Dismore said: “When people change their address, they almost always notify their employer, but nearly always forget to tell their trade union. In these days of postal ballots, how on earth is the union to get the ballot papers to the members if they do not register their addresses?”

Employment minister Pat McFadden said that current legislation allowed courts to overlook “small accidental failures” by a union to follow balloting rules. But Andrew Miller replied that in several court cases, judges had not used that option.

Mr McDonnell withdrew his other amendments, which would have restricted employers’ powers to sack striking workers and banned them from using agency staff to replace them.

Immediately afterwards, MPs debated another amendment which sought to write into law a European Court of Human Rights judgment, which said that trade unions have the right to choose their own members. The case was brought by train drivers’ union ASLEF in 2005 against BNP member Jay Lee, whom they had expelled.

But Tony Lloyd, the chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party who brought the amendment, withdrew it in the face of insufficient support.

The Government insists that the bill as it stands does implement the court ruling, but ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman called their refusal to change the bill “plain daft”.


4 Responses to “New Labour and Tories unite against workers rights”

  1. tally Says:

    I was pro european union once and I believe most people in the uk were until Maastricht. The Masstrict debate in parliament was listened to right across the country (even at work)and most people I believe at that time were for britain in europe. John Major rejected the eu charter and drew up his own citizens charter which was aimed only at public services and was mainly waffle. Tony Blair came along and accepted the eu charter but it really did not change anything. The eu charter was waffle too.
    Of course now we know now it was never intended to be britain in europe, but scotland wales n ireland and nine english regions in europe.
    The good bits of europe union never get across the water.

  2. Around the left this week « transform! ELPN blog Says:

    […] Socialist Unity. * Obligatory but non-election-related US post. * Labour attack workers rights, not once, but twice in one […]

  3. Capital and the capital « transform! ELPN blog Says:

    […] info By Andrew Categories: Entries Many on the non-Labour left have shared the outrage heaped on the government’s decision to whip its MPs against supporting the fairly mild reform […]

  4. adhdcanuck Says:

    Labour laws and workers are under attack in Canada as well, take a look at this, fired for speaking out about workers living conditions.

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