trade union bill protest Trade unionists lobby in front of parliament. Photo: @fbunational

Trade unionists lobbied parliament today to protest against the Tories’ attack on workers, writes Mark Smith

Thousands of trade union activists mobilised on Parliament today (Monday 2 November) to protest the Tories proposed ultra-right Trade Union bill. The turnout defied the expectations of many in the movement, including the event’s organisers, the TUC.

Speaking at the lobby’s Central Hall rally, the FBU’s Matt Wrack ably channelled the anger of his union’s rank-and-file. Unite’s Len McCluskey reiterated his union’s commitment to extra-legal action should the bill be passed, invoking the movement’s proud historic tradition of over-riding unjust laws.

Equity’s Andy Parsons made a mockery of the bill’s absurd – and unworkable – requirements for social media use. 

It is clear that even the most stolid sections of the movement have been revitalised by the new markers laid down by Jeremy Corbyn’s victory, and the flurry of militancy signposted by the RMT’s ongoing strike action and the recent Junior Doctor’s protests.

There is, however, a deep unevenness here that can only be overcome by fusing public sector workers – still the dominant trade union players – with public service users. This approach was most recently test driven with great success at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester.

This is an inherently weak Tory government, still reeling from last week’s tax credit body blow. Today’s lobby was far from routine and, more likely, a harbinger of a perfect storm of protest that might overwhelm this government.

The Tories’ Trade Union Bill is, in essence, divide-and-rule writ large. It is our task to turn this on its head. The present outpouring of solidarity towards refugees underlines our classes’ capacity for renewing and restoring itself.

What started out as a bone for the Tory right could well end up as a treasured prize in our armoury.

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