I will be voting against the Trade Union Bill which receives its second reading in the Commons today.

It is part of a bigger picture of this Government’s approach to our rights. The right to strike is under attack tonight, just as the Human Rights Act and the right to legal aid has been under sustained attack. Tonight’s proposals are made worse by the introduction of overly expensive court fees so that if you are sacked at work you have to have a spare £500 for the employment tribunal and if you need legal representation in your time of need, you are unlikely to get it due to the illiberal restrictions put on legal aid so that it is uneconomic for good advocates to choose to serve the community through a career in community law.

Workers in the UK are already some of the least protected in Europe. The most effective workplaces in Europe have good industrial relations where industry bosses and trade union leaders’ work together to resolve issues to the good of the company and the workforce. This legislation is just a nasty attempt by the Tory government to roll back our rights at work. There are serious problems in our workplaces of low pay, discrimination and unfair dismissal and this sort of legislation will lead to even greater Labour market equality. It will undoubtedly lead to a long term downward trend in wages and put at risk the fine balance between reasonable industrial relations between staff and their employers. This could also lead to a lowering of morale and a drop in the quality of service provision in public services.

Taken together, these proposals will have a chilling effect on workers’ ability to protest about injustices in the workplace and must be opposed.

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