​Trade union boss defies Tory anti-strike plans

Dave Prentis, secretary general of the Unison Union (Reuters / Phil Noble)
Government attempts to attack the rights of workers to organize and fight for better conditions will fail, according to Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis.

The trade unionist was speaking ahead of the union’s national conference in Glasgow, and used the occasion to attack government plans to make strikes unlawful unless more than 50 percent of union members entitled to vote backed them.

Prentis called the government’s plans “vindictive” and suggested the unions could challenge such a move in the courts. However, he insisted the measure wouldn’t hinder the unions.

If the government is going to take away people’s right to organize and protest, it’s a civil liberties issue,” Prentis told the Guardian newspaper.

READ MORE: Unions ‘puzzled’ as Network Rail seeks legal ban on national strike

READ MORE: Blue-collar Conservatives: RT asks ‘Are the Tories really the new workers’ party?’

However, he maintained the unions must be cautious.

We must review everything we do.

It would be tragic to behave like First World War generals, leading people over the top only for them to be shot down. We must choose our battles carefully.”

Unison remains affiliated to the Labour Party, with over 400,000 members eligible to vote in the forthcoming leadership election.

Following the general election last month, which saw the Conservatives win a small majority, new Tory Business Secretary Sajid Javid said the government will introduce the new laws to stop public sector industrial action going ahead.

Javid’s announcement followed Prime Minister David Cameron’s claim that the Tories are “the real party for working people” in what some felt was an effort to shrug off the Conservatives’ ‘party of the rich’ image.

Old Etonian Cameron told his new frontbench team: “I want everyone around this table to remember who we’re for. Every decision we take, every policy we pursue, every program we initiate, never forget: we’re here to give everyone in our country the chance to make the most of their life.

The pundits might call it ‘blue-collar Conservatism,’ others being on the side of hardworking taxpayers. I call it being the real party for working people: giving everyone in our country the chance to get on, with the dignity of a job, the pride of a paycheck, a home of their own and the security and peace of mind that comes from being able to support a family.