Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Jeremy Corbyn to rally opposition to trade union reforms in speech to TUC

New Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will today address union activists and pledge to support their campaign against controversial government plans to crack down on strike ballots and union funding.

He will receive a rapturous reception from delegates at the TUC Congress in Brighton after union leaders warmly welcomed his stunning victory following his successful campaign to lead the party.

His first appearance as leader was in the Commons yesterday during the second reading of the Trade Union Bill, but he made it clear that he wanted to address the annual conference of the TUC.

He will make a 15-minute speech after travelling from London.

Before he speaks, the Congress will have their main debate of the week, on how to oppose the Bill.

Unite leader Len McCluskey will speak about the need for co-ordinated action against the "blatantly unjust" legislation.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union will call for support for the possibility of assisting in organising "generalised strike action" should legal moves be taken against unions under the new law.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady mounted an angry attack against the Bill, warning ministers they had "woefully miscalculated" the resilience of workers and unions.

The public also supported the right to strike because it was a "fundamental human right", adding: "Ïf David Cameron was really battling for blue collar Britain, he'd be fighting for stronger rights. To stop bosses getting away with pitting worker against worker to undercut pay.

"The Conservative Party no longer represents the interests of industry in general - its main purpose is to serve just one, global finance."

Matt Wrack, leader of the Fire Brigades Union revealed he has raised the possibility of the entire TUC general council being arrested as a show of protest against the Government's clampdown on strike ballots and union funds.

He said he had asked the question at a meeting ahead of this week's TUC Congress as a way of showing leadership to union members.

"Ïf that happened, workers would realise how seriously we are taking this," he told a fringe meeting, adding that he had met a London firefighter recently who asked him why workers were accepting the Government's "attacks", and why unions weren't doing more to oppose them.

"We need to get out of our headquarters and visit towns and cities. Jeremy Corbyn has proved how you can persuade thousands of people to turn out."

Mr Wrack said a mass movement could be built between Labour and the unions now that the party was under new leadership.

The FBU voted to disaffiliate from Labour a decade ago in a row with the then government of Tony Blair over firefighters' pay and has made no move to re-join since.

But Mr Wrack said Mr Corbyn's election "completely changed" things and raised "new issues that unions will have to think very carefully about."

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union said there be no moves by his union to consider rejoining Labour until at least next summer at its annual conference.

He accused the Government of having a "secret agenda" to break up and re-privatise Network Rail, adding: "Let the Government understand this - if they don't pull back then RMT will ballot and will deliver the votes and will mobilise the biggest national rail strike in a generation.

"All of our transport services are public services and should be publicly owned and controlled. That is the policy objective and that is what we will continue to fight for."

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of Unite, told another fringe meeting that Labour should now try to build a mass movement of a million members to help oppose the Government.

He said: "A fire has been lit in the belly of the movement which has changed the world. We now have a leader prepared to go out with a different message to the one which has said there is no alternative to austerity."


From Belfast Telegraph