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STUC 2008



United campaign for Trade Union Freedom Bill
Strike against arms to Zimbabwe would have been illegal in Britain

by John Stevenson

Gordon McKay
Gordon McKay

The STUC will mount a major event in 2008 to promote a Trade Union Freedom Bill and campaign for the repeal of anti-union laws.

Supporting a joint motion from the UNITE (T&G), RMT, UNISON and BECTU unions, UNISON's Gordon McKay slammed the words of Tony Blair when he ‘glorified' the fact that British laws "remained the most restrictive on trade unions in the Western World".

This would "never fail to promote distaste and a sense of shame in the hearts and minds of decent people throughout Scotland", said Gordon.

And UNITE (T&G) assistant general secretary Len McLuskey pointed out that, while Gordon Brown had praised the South African dockers for boycotting a shipfull of arms for Zimbabwe, "British dockers couldn't take the same action because it would be illegal".

Gordon outlined the seriousness of the current restrictive laws. "People have fewer rights than they had before the passing of the 1906 Trades Disputes Act".

In particular, Gordon pointed to the fact that orders from tribunals to give people their jobs back are not enforceable.

"They are only made in situations where a tribunal believes an employer has acted wholly and consistently unreasonably", said Gordon. "But an employer is simply able to flout the law by refusing to reinstate and paying an increased compensation award".

"Can you imagine the result if a trade union refused to comply with a court order? We would have our funds sequestrated", he told Congress.

"It's time for the Labour government to treat unions and big business even-handedly. That's all we're asking for - a level playing field", added Gordon.

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