• IWW Ireland

Bosses Continue to Attack Workers Rights with New Scab Laws


Today, the British government passed legislation to legalise the use of agency workers by employers whose staff are striking. Effectively, they have not only made legal, but also effectively promoted, what the trade union movement has long called "scabbing".


Bosses and scab workers can now lawfully collude to break the strike by crossing the picket line. The law is an obvious attempt to head off further strikes by the RMT union. The RMT union's recent series of strikes has woken thousands and thousands of workers up to the fact that strikes work: they hit employers where it hurts - in their pocket. Workers are looking at unionising now with either fresh eyes, or for the first time.


They see the great power they have when they unite to improve our conditions at work, and the power of our class against the bosses, bureaucrats and billionaires of this world. Many generations of workers before us have united and struggled, suffered and died for the rights we now take for granted: parental leave, sick pay, compensation for injury, to not have to suffer discrimination of any kind at work, the right to be represented, and even the weekend and forty-hour working week.


The most powerful, and indeed often the only, weapon they had was to withhold their work - to go out on strike. They struck for better conditions and to oppose injustices at work - injustices like unfair pay, harassment and discrimination, and dangerous work. They struck in solidarity with oppressed people, and in sympathy with others trying to improve conditions for all. By allowing employers to ignore the demands of the working people by hiring scabs, they are effectively allowing the employer to ignore the workers.


Using scab workers will not help the employers: they cannot replace the experience and knowledge of those on strike, and their business will suffer greatly. Those employed by the agency may be treated much more unfairly than regular workers, protected by the union agreements with the employer, increasing the level of precariousness in their working lives - and all the social costs associated with this. The British government and the bosses want to ignore us when we speak up against discrimination, against exploitation, and against unsafe practices at work.


The IWW condemns the legislation passed today by Kwasi Kwarteng, and asks the agency workers who will be asked to break the strikes, to stand in solidarity with RMT workers and not break the strike. We also ask all workers to support the RMT in its actions, for what happens to them could happen to all of us. We must unite to resist this blatant undermining of our rights and work, and to give back the RMT workers a voice in their relationship with their employer.


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