European trade unions call out UK government’s attack on working people

Feb 1, 2023 | Press release

Wage increases are key for working people to maintain a decent standard of living through the cost-of-living crisis. Yet, following years of stagnating wages, the UK government is now attempting to push through legislation to curtail strikes for legitimate pay demands. European trade union federations regret the UK government’s conflictual approach and support Britain’s striking workers and their trade unions.

The UK government claims it is aligning its laws with those of other Western European countries. The reality is that British strike laws are already amongst the most restrictive of comparable countries and the new legislation will enable further attacks on working people’s conditions.

Collective bargaining, including the right to strike, is the main tool with which working people can claim fairer salaries and improve their conditions. It is the norm in all of the countries the UK government has claimed it is aiming to replicate.

Instead of attempting to subdue the collective demands of working people, the UK government should listen to the legitimate issues being raised. Inflation is at record high levels, as have been corporate profits. The solution lies in bridging that growing gap between those who are accumulating the profits and those who are suffering the price hikes by enabling workers to claim a fairer share of the contribution they make through their work.

If the UK government were sincere about addressing the cost of living crisis, it would start by addressing its consequences on working communities. That goes first and foremost through pay rises that keep pace with cost-of-living hikes.

The UK government is attempting to isolate the British trade union movement. Their narrative seeks to separate working people along any lines they deem can create division: public and private workers, nationals and non-nationals, white and BAME, men and women, medium and low incomes, precarious and stable contracts.

Workers’ interests are collective and our strength lies in our unity. The European trade union movement stands firmly in solidarity with the British trade union movement on the TUC’s national ‘protect the right to strike’ day and every day. Our response to the government’s attempt to divide and isolate workers in the UK is to strengthen our unity.

EAEA – European Arts and Entertainment Alliance EUROCOP – European Confederation of Police
EFBWW/FETBB – European Federation of Building and Woodworkers
EFFAT – European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions EFJ/FEJ – European Federation of Journalists
IndustriAll European Trade Union
EPSU – European Federation of Public Service Unions
ETF – European Transport Workers’ Federation
ETUCE/CSEE – European Trade Union Committee for Education
UNI Europa – European Services Workers Union

Statement ETUFs UK day of action 01.02.2023

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