MP accuses Government of ‘waging war on working people’ over controversial anti-strike legislation

The Member of Parliament for Birkenhead has accused Rishi Sunak of “waging a war on working people”, as the Prime Minister draws up controversial plans to restrict the right to strike.

Mick Whitley MP said, “The UK already has the most far-reaching anti-trade union laws in Western Europe, but the Tories are desperate in the face of the wave of justified strikes that workers across the country are waging to cope with the cost-of-living crisis.

“Those workers have already had to meet a series of punishing thresholds to be able to go on strike because of year-on-year laws passed by successive Tory administrations. Now the government are considering introducing legislation to force frontline workers to maintain minimum levels of service during periods of industrial action as early as next week.”

It is expected that these new rules will be pushed through in the NHS, the fire service, border force, schools, and the rail and nuclear sectors.

Employers will be allowed to sack workers and sue trade unions for failing to maintain a minimum level of service. Speaking to, Mick Whitley MP said, “The right to strike is fundamental to any democracy. It was through strike action by unions that some of the most significant steps forward for working people were won – from the eight-hour working day to equal pay legislation.”

The Member of Parliament for Birkenhead said that the proposals lent credence to the RMT’s accusation yesterday (Wednesday 4 January) that Transport Ministers were interfering in negotiations to prevent a resolution to the ongoing rail strikes.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch has claimed that an “unprecedented level of ministerial interference . . . is hamstringing rail employers from being able to negotiate a package of measures with us, so we can settle this dispute”.

The Birkenhead MP continued, “It seems clear that rather than working to achieve the resolution that rail workers and commuters deserve, the Government is intent on escalating the dispute to provide a pretext for driving through this draconian legislation.”

This pattern of meeting the reasonable demands of workers and the request to negotiate in a free and fair manner with a hard-line refusal to talk and the threat of new laws is being repeated by the government with the nurses and ambulance staff, the civil service, the post and in every sector in dispute.

It is not washing with either the unions or the general public, as support for the current strikes has been evident in opinion poll after opinion poll. And the reason is clear to see. With analysis showing that wages in every region of Britain are lower today than they were when the Tories came to power in 2010, Mick Whitley accused the government of having got its priorities “totally wrong”.

He urged the government to focus on driving up wages instead of restricting one of the few methods available to working people to fight for fair pay rises.

The Labour Party is opposing these plans, with Keir Starmer today committing to repeal any new anti-strike law should Labour win the next General Election.

Meanwhile, the message from the Trade Union Congress was clear, “if ministers want to use workers as a political football, the whole trade union movement will be united in defending the right to strike. And make no mistake: we will fight hard.”


Why not follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? You can also send story ideas to

Share this

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Facebook comments

Latest news