Rishi Sunak has confirmed the government is ready to ram through new anti-strike laws.
The government has already started the process to pass a new law implementing minimum service levels during transport strikes, which would gut the right to strike.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson said on Wednesday that work was “ongoing” on other options for mitigating future industrial action, including a ban on walkouts by ambulance staff and other emergency workers, and extension of proposed minimum service level legislation to cover the whole public sector.
Unions, including Solidarity, have condemned the proposals.
“[The government] changes the law every time it loses an argument,” Mr Lynch of the RMT union told reporters.
“If people want to protest against them, they say you’re not allowed to do that anymore. If people want to take industrial action, they say it’s illegal.
“All of the opinion polls show it. They are losing the argument [on wages]. So, they are trying to get rid of the argument by suppressing trade union rights.”
Mr Lynch said that the trade union movement needs a co-ordinated and robust response to the attacks.
He said: “I fully expect [the government] to press ahead because they need a diversion for all their incompetence, so it’s a handy thing for them.
“Trade unions have no choice. When your members are being impoverished, you have to respond.”
Other union leaders have also spoken out against the plans.
Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity said:
“Attacks on the right to strike are assaults on democracy. Strikes, or the threat of strikes, are a way for ordinary workers to bring about change in their pay and conditions. Sometimes a strike is the only way to get bad bosses to listen to their workers. No one wants to go on strike but sometimes it’s necessary. If passed this legislation will be fiercely resisted and will further divide our society.”
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack said any attempt to ban workers from taking strike action would be an “outrage to so-called democracy.
“To further restrict the right to take industrial action would be a highly authoritarian move, and more in keeping with the actions of a dictatorial regime,” he said.
“The Tories are badly misjudging the public mood with these attacks.
“Any attempt to limit the right to strike will be fiercely resisted by the FBU.”
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said that the government should instead be concentrating efforts to meeting with unions to solve the disputes.
“This threatens to backfire spectacularly on the government,” she said.
“The public has immense sympathy for ambulance workers and their NHS colleagues.
“Ministers could do well to remember that union members are voters too.”
When asked what action they would take on strike laws, a Labour spokesperson said only that they would repeal the “archaic” 2016 laws brought in under previous Tory administration, but offered no specifics beyond that.