The Fire Brigades Union, one of three national trade unions to support the Free Our Unions campaign, has submitted the following motion to the Labour East Regional Conference, which takes place over the weekend of 22-23 February:
On 19th December 2019, the Johnson Government published a revised European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill 2019-20 (WAB). The WAB subsequently passed its third and final reading in the House of Commons on 9th January 2020. Conference is appalled and incredibly concerned regarding the removal of the clause protecting EU derived workers’ rights from the WAB and the prospect of a Tory Employment Bill.
The removal of the clause protecting workers’ rights and the impending Employment Bill, together with the re-election of a Tory Government, firmly places the issue of worker’s rights and Trade Union legislation as a campaigning priority for the Labour Party.
Conference notes that existing anti-trade union laws – not just the 2016 Trade Union Act, but multiple laws going back to 1980 – continually undermine workers’ ability to organise and campaign. They mean our movement is fighting the challenges of low pay, insecurity and erosion of hard-won terms and conditions with our hands tied behind our backs.
This Conference also notes that the 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019 Labour Party conferences and the 2019 TUC Congress voted for clear policy to repeal all the anti-union laws and replace them with strong legal rights for workers and unions, including strong rights to strike and picket. However, this has not yet fully fed through into the party’s public campaigning.
Conference welcomes the Free our Unions campaign and associated statement for Labour to campaign for this policy – a campaign that has been launched by a range of trade union branches and organisations and is now recognised nationally by unions such as the Fire Brigades Unions and the RMT.
It is now absolutely crucial for our movement to ensure that any future Labour government, and the current Labour opposition, acts quickly and decisively on this matter.
Therefore conference calls on the Labour East Regional Board to support this campaign and:
- Circulate the Free Our Unions campaign statement to members and an explanation of why it is so important.
- Encourage CLPs, Branches & Committees to arrange meetings on the issue & invite a speaker from the campaign.
- Encourage members to circulate the statement as widely as possible.
- Write to the party leadership on the issue
- Urge Labour MP’s to raise the issue of Trade Union rights in regard to any European Trade mandate discussions, which are likely to commence on 25th February.