13 January 2015
The Guardian, Monday 12 January 2015 19.43 GMT
On the same day the government pledged to curb public-sector unions’ right to strike by introducing a 40% minimum vote threshold (Report, 10 January), it also pledged to cut the pay of health workers. This is no coincidence. The government fears strikes and knows that if it wasn’t for the unions and the right to strike there would be no barrier to moving millions of public-sector workers on to minimum-wage, zero-hour contracts. This government is out of touch. It believes that portraying unions as “the enemy within” will play well with the electorate. It could not have got this more wrong. There is more public support for unions today than there has been for many years. Especially when they take strike action to defend services and their members’ living conditions.
The public understands that working people need someone in their workplace who will stand between them and bullying managers. The hypocrisy of such attempts to further blunt the ability of unions to defend their members is not lost on the public. The same government that holds our pay down at 1%, while awarding itself 11%, unsurprisingly, doesn’t think voting thresholds should apply to it. If it were to apply a 40% threshold, then this government would not be in office. Once again the Tory-led coalition has one weapon: divide and rule. It blames migrants, people on benefits, public-sector workers and now trade unionists. We have four months to ensure that this government of class privilege is driven from office.
John McDonnell MP, Ronnie Draper General secretary, Bakers’, Food & Allied Workers Union, Billy Hayes General secretary, Communication Workers Union, Sean Vernell & Jane Aitchison Unite the Resistance, Ian Hodson President, Bakers’, Food & Allied Workers Union