The government is picking a fight with unions and workers after it revealed a “bankers’ budget” last week that aims to further restrict the right to strike and does little for ordinary people but much for the super-rich.
Trade union leaders have called the government’s mini-Budget a “Robin Hood in reverse” that hands a giveaway to the super-rich while holding down workers’ pay.
Following the budget, TSSA and Unite announced fresh strikes in the ongoing rail disputes over jobs, pay and conditions.
All the major rail unions are now taking strike action on October 1.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The government should be working towards a negotiated settlement in the national rail dispute, not seeking to make it even harder to take effective strike action.
“RMT and other unions will not sit idly by or meekly accept any further obstacles on their members exercising the basic human right to withdraw their labour.”
And TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said that the new rules will only elongate disputes and do nothing to encourage employers to negotiate realistic offers.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady labelled the Budget “Robin Hood in reverse,” slamming Prime Minister Liz Truss for holding down wages and lining the pockets of big corporations and City bankers.
“We should be rewarding work, not wealth. The party of pay cuts strikes again.”
Ms O’Grady said a “very different plan” was needed in the full autumn Budget, including the boosting of the minimum wage, universal credit and pensions.
She added: “Nobody takes the decision to strike lightly, but the right to strike to defend pay and conditions is a fundamental British freedom.
“And it’s the last line of defence against employers who refuse to negotiate fair pay.
“These new restrictions are unworkable, very likely illegal and designed to hold down pay across the economy.”
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said that billionaires and City bankers will “once again be considering which tax haven they will stash their money in, while millions of ordinary families continue to struggle to make ends meet.”
Solidarity general secretary Patrick Harrington said: “This budget does very little to help ordinary working people but a lot for the richest in our society. It’s an insult to all those struggling to make ends meet. The attacks on unions seeking to maintain their members living standards must meet mounting resistance both in workplaces and on the streets.”
GMB general secretary Gary Smith said the announcement had “set in stone an economy that’s rigged against the working people.
“Our members want an economic policy that works for all, not just the spivs and speculators who have done very well out of a Tory government,” he said.
Royal College of Nursing chief executive Pat Cullen urged members to back strike action as she struck out at the package that gives “billions to bankers and nothing to nurses.”
Resolution Foundation chief executive Torsten Bell said those earning £1 million annually will get a £55,000 tax cut next year.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation said it shows the government has “no understanding of the economic reality facing millions across the UK.”
Chief economist Rebecca McDonald said: “This is a Budget that has wilfully ignored families struggling through a cost-of-living emergency and instead targeted its action at the richest.”