UK News

Unions should not comply with new minimum service laws, says FBU chief

Fire Brigade Union general secretary Matt Wrack has called for a national campaign of non-compliance with new employment laws
Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent

Unions are being urged to build a campaign to defy the controversial new law on minimum levels of service during strikes.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack called for “mass non-cooperation and non-compliance” with the Minimum Service Levels Bill currently going through Parliament.

The FBU said the TUC should convene an emergency conference to launch a campaign of defiance and civil disobedience against the Bill if it becomes law.

National demonstrations and sustained mass mobilisations can defeat the Bill, the union said.

Non-compliance with the Bill would be one of the most significant attempts by unions to defy employment law since the 1984-85 miners’ strike, said the FBU.

Matt Wrack said the strategy of non-compliance was needed, as there was “no obvious route to challenge this attack through the courts”.

He said: “The Minimum Services Level Bill is one of the most draconian attacks on the rights of working people in decades.

“It’s a pernicious piece of legislation that’s in keeping with authoritarian regimes around the world.

“The Government is deliberately attempting to strengthen the position of employers and severely weaken the position of workers. They are doing this for one purpose – to drive down wages.

“Ministers are bulldozing this anti-worker legislation through Parliament, and riding roughshod over the democratic process by seeking to avoid scrutiny.

“The Fire Brigades Union will fiercely resist this onslaught on our democratic rights, but it’s an attack on all workers.

“A mass movement of non-compliance can defeat this attack on working people by making the legislation unworkable.

“The TUC can lead this movement of resistance, first by calling an emergency congress, followed by a national demonstration, and a sustained campaign of non-cooperation.

“The Government is attempting to ban effective strikes, and giving employers the power to sack workers who do not comply with this legislation.

“However, a unified strategy of mass resistance can make this law inoperable and stop it dead in its tracks.”