CSP joins campaign to resist anti-strike laws at special TUC congress

The CSP vowed to campaign against new “draconian, anti-democratic” legislation at a special TUC Congress held in London on Saturday.

CSP delegates at the TUC special conference 2023
CSP delegates at the TUC special conference

CSP reps Jill Taylor, Becky Portwood, Trupti Bhandari and Flora Charlton joined trade union delegates from across the UK at this once-in-a-generation event where they debated and agreed the next stages of a joint union campaign against new anti-strike laws.

The laws, which passed by parliament on to the statute book last week, restrict the right to strike and introduce minimum service levels in rail, border security and ambulance services.

Ministers are also consulting on rules affecting workers in hospital settings, schools, universities and fire services.  

The anti-strike legislation gives ministers sweeping powers to impose strike restrictions in any service within health, education, fire, transport, border security and nuclear decommissioning.

Jill Taylor, chair of the CSP Employment Committee and National Group of Regional Stewards, told the conference:

The draconian, anti-democratic threat of work notices would break down the partnership working that keeps NHS services safe

‘The government's own impact assessment suggests industrial disputes would likely become more protracted because of their introduction. To deprive workers of our democratic right now is unfair and, quite frankly, and is a threat to our health service.’

Jill highlighted that this year CSP members took strike action for the first time over NHS pay and stated that through partnership work derogations were in place ‘to ensure that patient care and safety is maintained during industrial action. Personally, I worked tirelessly in the lead up to the strikes hand in hand with my employer to ensure patients were not at risk.’

Resist and repeal

Also in attendance was Jim Fahie, CSP assistant director. He said: ‘The rhetoric is this legislation is about patient care. Make no mistake, this is about taking away your rights as an employee and attacking trade unions in one of the countries which already has some of the most draconian and anti-democratic trade union laws.

‘This is going to make things worse for CSP members as employees. The CSP and our members at the special congress today are saying we are not prepared to accept this, and we will resist.’

A general council statement setting out how the TUC would support unions to ‘resist, mobile and repeal’, the legislation was unanimously passed by delegates.

Next steps

In his speech, TUC general secretary Paul Novac argued that health and other workers have shown that they ‘do not need lessons in public safety from ministers’.

He argued that the path to industrial peace was to: ‘Pay us fairly. Treat us fairly. Invest in our public services.’

As a next step in the campaign, a march is planned on January 27 in Cheltenham to commemorate the successful campaign for union rights at GCHQ - and to reiterate calls for repeal of the anti-strike laws. The CSP will be represented.

The laws have faced widespread criticism, with Metro mayors and council leaders from across the UK being the latest to show their opposition, warning on Saturday that they will ‘make disputes harder to solve’ and ‘lead to more frequent and longer strikes’.   

NHS Providers recently warned that the legislation could worsen industrial relations, harm patient care and lead to more disruption.


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