Tower Hamlets Council has announced its opposition to the government’s proposed trade union bill.
A motion calling on the council to denounce the government’s trade unions bill was put to a meeting on Wednesday, November 18 by Cllr Clare Harrisson (Lab, St Peters) said the proposed bill would damage democracy and human rights for workers in the UK.
She said: “The right to strike and protest are fundamental rights which should be respected in a free and democratic society.
“The Conservative government’s bill will undermine constructive employment relations and that harmonious industrial relations are achieved by meaningful engagement and not additional legal restrictions to trade union members.
“The government’s trade union bill is part of a disturbing trend to erode civil liberties and inhibit the right to speak out or protest against the government.”
The bill had its first reading in the House of Lords on Thursday, November 11. The motion called on mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs to write to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills stating the council’s opposition to the bill.
Cllr Oliur Rahman (Ind, Stepney Green) gave vocal support for the motion, taking the opportunity to take a swipe at the Tories on Tower Hamlets Council.
“This issue is close to my heart as a trade unionist,” he said. “The government is attacking every single working class person in the UK.”
After being interrupted, Cllr Rahman pointed at Conservative members of the council.
“You might laugh, but this is serious,” he said. “Shut up, Peter Golds, you do not know the struggles of working class people and you never will.”
Responding to Cllr Rahman, Cllr Chris Chapman (Con, Blackwall and Cubitt Town) referred to the Conservatives as the “real party of working people”, before he was interrupted by a chorus of laughter across the chamber.
“The bill rebalances and protects the freedoms of trade unions,” he said. “They should not strike without support of union members, and we can’t be held hostage to fat cat union bosses.”
The motion was passed, with all Independent and Labour councillors voting in favour. Tory councillors originally appeared to abstain from the vote before Cllr Golds and Cllr Chapman asked for their names to be recorded as voting against the motion in the meeting’s minutes.