TUC Takes UK Government to the UN Over Controversial Strike Laws
The draconian anti-strike laws recently forced through by the Tories have now incurred the wrath of the international community. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has lodged a new complaint with the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO), accusing the government of breaching international law.
TUC general secretary Paul Nowak slammed the Tories’ strike act as “unworkable, undemocratic and almost certainly in breach of international law.” He argued it was designed not to resolve disputes but to deliberately escalate tensions.
This comes after the ILO already issued a stinging rebuke to the government in June over the proposed laws, demanding ministers comply with international rules on freedom of association. Yet the Tories brazenly ignored the UN body and rammed through the legislation regardless.
The government claims the laws protect the public by maintaining minimum service levels during strikes. But the TUC insists they represent a “fundamental attack on the right to strike” that will make Britain an “international outlier” on workers’ rights.
TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said the laws were the product of a “desperate” government intent on picking a fight with unions to distract from its dire economic record. He warned that workers’ rights will be a ballot box issue at the next election.
According to TUC general secretary Paul Nowak, the new complaint has been submitted because the strike laws clearly violate previous ILO rulings. “We believe the strikes act falls well short of that, and that’s why we have taken our case to the ILO,” he said.
Nowak argues the laws have been deliberately designed to inflame tensions rather than resolve disputes. “They’re unworkable, undemocratic and almost certainly in breach of international law,” he railed. “They’re the product of a desperate Conservative government spoiling for a fight with unions.”
With workers’ rights a key issue ahead of the next election, Nowak also accused the Tories of having a “wretched record” on employment standards and of presiding over an explosion in insecure work. He contrasted this with Labour’s promise of pro-worker reforms like banning fire-and-rehire tactics.
The ILO complaint comes amid warnings that the strike laws could also put the UK in breach of its post-Brexit trade commitments. Esther Lynch, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, argues the legislation contravenes UK pledges on maintaining labour standards and respecting ILO conventions.
“This could expose the UK to potentially hefty economic sanctions,” she cautioned. It seems the Conservatives’ ideological fixation on crushing workers’ rights risks backfiring both legally and economically.
The government claims the draconian strike restrictions are about ‘protecting livelihoods’ and ensuring access to public services. But the unions argue this is mere pretext for an authoritarian power grab designed to rob workers of their fundamental freedoms.
With the Tories having presided over an explosion in insecure work and repeatedly weakened employment protections, the contrast with Labour’s promised “transformative new deal” for workers could not be starker.
The TUC is also arguing the laws likely breach commitments made in the UK-EU trade agreement, potentially exposing the country to economic sanctions from Europe.
In short, the government’s ideological crusade against workers has backfired spectacularly and risks serious diplomatic and economic consequences. The Tories’ disdain for both domestic and international law has left Britain isolated on the world stage.
Rather than making progress resolving the wave of strikes driven by the cost of living crisis, the government has simply poured petrol on the flames. Workers will not take these authoritarian attacks on their rights lying down.
The Tories have managed to provoke the ire of trade unions, the Labour movement, the British public and now the United Nations. Attacking workplace rights during a crisis of their own making is proving to be political self-sabotage of the highest order.