PCS spoke to call for the repeal of the draconian Trade Union Act and for all workers to be guaranteed the right to strike in a debate at the TUC Congress in Brighton today (11).
The POA proposed motion 33 which recognised the further restrictions placed on trade unions by the Trade Union Act, which places unfair and unnecessary processes when balloting its membership for industrial action.
A high-profile union movement-wide campaign during this legislative process took place and while not getting rid of the major restrictions it diluted some draconian measures.
The motion, which PCS supported, also highlighted the fact that the POA is the only affiliate within the TUC for a large section of its membership, both in the public and private sector, to not have the right to take any form of industrial action under the restrictions of the Criminal Justice Public Order Act 1994 (since amended) section 127. The motion urged the TUC General Council to mount a high-profile campaign for the repeal of section 127, as it is “an unnecessary restriction on an affiliated trade union.”
POA general secretary Steve Gillan who spoke to propose the motion said: “The reality is that it is a form of modern day slavery.
“We will stand up to the bullying employer and this bullying government.”
Steve highlighted the fact that his members are banned from even withdrawing from voluntary tasks. These include so-called ‘Tornado units’ of elite officers who are sent to prisons to bring riots under control.
PCS delegate Gordon Rowntree, who spoke in support of the motion, highlighted to congress our union’s consistent fight for better trade union rights and attacks, such as the withdrawal of check-off, faced by our union and members.
“We already have the most draconian trade union laws in Europe. This (section 127) is an attack on every single one of us,” he said.
“Whatever the Tories throw at us, we will fight back, it might be difficult at sometimes but we must be committed.”
An amendment to the motion by the Fire Brigades Union highlighted the threats made by the current government to further restrict trade union rights, including the right to strike, of workers in particular sectors, such as firefighters, rail workers and other workers.
FBU delegate Samantha Rye said that a voluntary strike ban had been suggested by a consultant putting together a coalition government document on the FBU.
She said: “It is inconceivable that any group on our sisters and brothers is prevented from taking industrial action.
“We need to get behind every worker taking industrial action and ensure that the right to strike is extended to every worker. We have to stand with our sisters and brothers in every dispute, in every sector.”
Rob Goodfellow of the UCU said that the Tories hate being described as the “nasty party” and yet had lived up to that description by imposing further restrictions on workers’ rights through the Trade Union Act.
“The truth is the Tories are the nasty party and are anti-workers’ rights,” he said. “Workers need every right that has been fought for and won.”
The motion was carried unanimously.