Today, up to half a million people across the country are making the difficult decision to go on strike, including many people in York.
Teachers, civil servants, train drivers, university staff, and security guards across several Unions are among those participating in the industrial action today.
At present, the Conservative Government are seeking to introduce a new piece of controversial legislation, The Strikes (Minimum Services Levels) Bill – also known as the ‘anti-strike bill’. This passed its first test in the House of Commons yesterday, with MPs voting 315 to 246 in favour. This means the bill will now go to the House of Lords for further scrutiny. The Bill is proposing to set out minimum service levels for certain industries when those sectors go on strike, with workers losing their protection from unfair dismissal and facing the sack if they refuse.
In the Parliamentary debate, held last night, Members of Parliament across the house shared their concern for this legislation, including the York Central MP Rachael Maskell, who said:
“Let us face the reason why we are where we are: the unions are sitting at the table but have had no one to negotiate with for weeks. The Secretary of State has run around the media studios dreaming up legislation that restricts workers but avoids addressing the dispute. Workers are on those picket lines because they know that their services are completely unsafe. They know the level of agency spend being put in place. Instead of blocking the path to resolution, the Minister should really get around the negotiating table and stop the ideological fight with working people that he is pursuing.”
… “This Bill is just not fit for purpose. Instead of it being a toy, or a game that the Minister wants to play, it is time that the grown-ups in the room had the opportunity to negotiate a proper deal for working people across our country, and to no longer see this legislation. I know that one thing Labour will do is ensure that this Bill is removed from our statute book.”
In York, those on strike today gathered for a rally organised by the TUC, to share their voices and support for their right to strike.
The MP for York Central, Rachael Maskell, sent a message of support to those attending the demonstration:
“It isn’t a choice. It is a duty.
When people are crushed and services are crumbling.
When Government is denying and looking the other way.
This day, is your day. To stand up and speak out.
To show the nation what it is to care, to teach, to research and to support.
Your everyday now on display.
Your labour of love and your daily dedications.
But this is a day. To stand up and to shout. To lead and to fight.
For if you are not here today, you may not have a tomorrow.
To tell that millionaire Cabinet that you can’t make the sums add up, the pay is too low and the hours too long
To know that you could be so much more, if only …. if only you had time, if only you could breath, if only you could be you.
But you are broken. The daily assault that chips away at all you are. Now the daily insults at what you are worth.
Well, if you value something in this life, you pay for it, cherish it, and hold it in high esteem.
You are not a machine churning out education, benefits, patients or results.
You nurture a generation, support all in need, provide the cures and keep us safe. You reach out, and love, and do all the unseen kind things that no-one will every hear about.
The clock is ticking, and that lot in power are on their way.
Our time is coming – time for justice and fairness. Where your voices are heard and your future is secure.
So hold on as we oust these corrupt, greedy, selfish bunch of crooks, who look after themselves and care not a jot about anyone else.
For who are caring for the carers. Supporting the supporters. Fighting for the fighters. And reaching out to all in need.
You are. We are. That is what solidarity is.
We stand together, march together, fight together, hope together and will win together.
Full text of Rachael’s speech can be found here.