Search

Keir Starmer condemns trade union bill as ‘pure ideology’

PUBLISHED: 14:29 28 January 2016 | UPDATED: 14:51 28 January 2016

Keir Starmer MP speaking at a recent debate

Keir Starmer MP speaking at a recent debate

Archant

Labour MP Sir Keir Starmer has condemned the Trade Union Bill currently making its way through Parliament, saying it will be damaging to business and public service as well as workers if it passes into law.

At a debate hosted by Camden UNISON, the MP for Holborn and St Pancras spoke of his time as a human rights barrister, when he dealt with hundreds of trade union cases.

He said: “Many of those cases were people who were being injured in the same way, in the same workplaces and factories over and again, and only because those individuals were members of unions were they able to get compensation for the injuries they were sustaining.”

One of the earliest cases he dealt with was the miners’ strike, where he was instructed by Arthur Scargill over the pit closures, which he described as “an intense, deep dive into trade unionism”.

Sir Keir said he had experienced trade unions from both sides, because as a former Director of Public Prosecutions, he was the boss of 8,000 workers.

He said he had switched unions to join the same one as his staff to show solidarity and his belief in collective bargaining.

He said: “If you want to run a public service or a business, you need trade unions. If you’re negotiating with a trade union, it makes for a much better working environment and better outcomes for everybody.”

He said that for over a century, the law had increasingly intruded into trade union activity, and that the latest bill is “purely ideological” because it serves no real purpose.

The government says the trade union bill is necessary because of the number of transport workers’ strikes based on relatively low turn-outs in strike ballots, but Sir Keir pointed to the fact that industrial action has been steadily in decline for decades.

He said: “You have to ask yourself, what problem is this bill actually intending to solve?

“And there isn’t one. It is intended to strike simply at the heart of trade unionism and to extinguish the ability to take collective action.”

The Trade Union Bill has been described as the biggest crackdown on unions for 30 years, and seeks to criminalise “intimidatory” picketing and to allow employers to hire strike-breaking agency staff.

It will also limit the rights of workers to take strike action with a “double bind” threshold - meaning there must be a fifty percent turnout on strike ballots, as well as a majority in favour of industrial action.

Also at the debate was Lucy Masoud, a firefighter and treasurer of the London Fire Brigades Union.

She warned: “Firefighters are highly trained, and the idea that you can replace them with temporary, agency staff is dangerous to both the public and to those workers.

“Strike action amongst firefighters has always been an absolute last resort. I didn’t join the fire brigade to go on strike, but when I have done so, it has always been absolutely the right thing to do.

“The government tells us that we should show compassion and not strike, but where was their compassion when they closed ten fire stations in London?”

The TUC has called for a week of collective action against the Bill next month.

George Binette, Camden UNISON branch secretary, said : “I think it’s important to do something substantial during this week of action, in the context of a society which already has the most drastic restrictions on trade union activity, particularly strike action, in the western world, with the exception of a few states in America.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

7 minutes ago

Wage cuts for nurses covering sick leave and other increases in demand at Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital have been postponed after workers threatened to cancel shifts en masse.

42 minutes ago

Brexit uncertainty is one reason for a slowdown in Camden house prices, said a leading estate agent after new data showed that property values in the borough fell 0.8 per cent in August and 2.1pc in the last 12 months.

14:05

Tickets for a public meeting into the future of the Phoenix Cinema have sold out within days of it being announced.

13:57

Mitzvah Day volunteers from Hampstead were among those taking part in Sewa Day – a Hindu day of community action – in Kingsbury, Brent this weekend.

10:29

As part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, Haringey Police have been engaging with the community to raise awareness of the importance of reporting abuse and discrimination.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Community groups are celebrating after the owners of the “landmark” Alliance pub in West Hampstead had planning permission for extensive remodelling and redevelopment refused.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Twenty-five people, including eleven in Camden, have been charged with drugs offences after two-days of dawn raids in Camden, Islington, Brent and Lambeth.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Sardonic, sarcastic and funny are three of the words that have been used to describe the late-SOAS lecturer and King’s Cross local Prof Lawrence Saez, who died at the beginning of September.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now