May Day: Greens vow to repeal Thatcher’s anti-union laws

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Scottish Greens co-convenor Maggie Chapman has vowed lead a fightback against Margaret Thatcher’s anti-trade-union laws if she is elected as MEP on 22 May.

Cllr Chapman will push for EU laws restoring the right of workers to ballot for industrial action on any grounds they see fit, including taking secondary action, which was banned by the new Conservative government in 1980.

She will also work for laws guaranteeing the right to join a trade union, to have a union chosen by employees recognised in the workplace, and to be represented by that union.

Cllr Chapman said:

“Workers are fighting a war of attrition for what little rights we have left. We can’t win like that. This May Day, I want us to take a day to get off the back foot and demand better – much better – for ourselves and for our colleagues across Europe.

“With complex, multi-employer workplaces, we need to restore our right to sympathy action. When British Airways staff walked out in defence of their Gate Gourmet colleagues, they were breaking the law. This divide-and-rule law is brutally effective and must be repealed.

“Millions of workers are unsupported because they fear repercussions if they try to organise. We should enshrine in law the specific right to join a union, to have a union recognised in the workplace, and to be represented by that union.

“We cannot have a just economy if ordinary workers don’t have the means to stand up for ourselves. As Scotland’s Green MEP, I’ll fight to undo Thatcher’s anti-union laws.”

The ban on secondary, or sympathy, action was repealed by Clement Attlee’s Labour government in 1946. It was banned by Thatcher’s Employment Act 1980, and left untouched by New Labour.