International Trade Union Conference hears Workers Party condemn use of Agency Workers to Break Strikes

Yet a further erosion of workers right is being planned by the Conservative government.

The current restriction on employers hiring agency staff to replace striking staff is being considered by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps ahead of industrial action to be taken by rail staff, but would apply to all sectors.

The move has drawn strong opposition from trade unions including the RMT Union which represents transport and other workers.

It has also been criticised at an international trade union seminar organised by PAME in Athens this week to coincide with its Congress.

Addressing the seminar on behalf of the Workers Party trade union group, Lily Kerr, a lifelong trade unionist, said,” The British Government has stated that it is considering using agency workers to break strikes. This comes against a background where companies are refusing to honour collective bargaining agreements, governments do nothing to support the workers, and in many cases threaten anti-trade union legislation to support the monopolies”.

In the past number of months, we have seen P&O Ferries sack 800 workers without warning by Zoom, and employ agency staff at £1.80 an hour to replace them. University Staff are currently taking industrial action against cuts to staff, pay and pensions. Many public sector workers are taking industrial action because pay increases are not keeping pace with unprecedented levels of inflation”, she said.

“Every gain and achievement, every piece of legislation that granted even limited or modest forms of progress, social or economic rights, was fought for and won by workers themselves through vigorous struggle.

“We know that it is socialism which provides an alternative, a new social order which will bring about the emancipation of the working class and the peoples of the world. 

However, comrades, that does not mean that we can afford to, or indeed should, wait until the overthrow of this corrupt system, before we demand meaningful rights and social progress in the workplace and in wider society.”, added Lily.

Every gain and achievement has been fought for and won by workers themselves
through vigorous struggle.

See Lily Kerr’s speech in full here:

Solidarity, support and donuts

Lily Kerr extending solidarity and sharing donuts with staff on the picket line in North Belfast

Lily Kerr headed up a group of local Workers Party members as they joined with staff on the UNITE the Union picket line at Alexandra Park Recycling facility in North Belfast earlier this morning.

Workers from local councils, the Education Authority, the Housing Executive and number of colleges have been forced to take industrial action following the refusal by management to move on a pay offer of just 1.75% – effectively a cut in income after eleven years of pay freezes.

“It is intolerable,” Lily said” that these workers, who helped keep our society functioning during the pandemic and who now face rapidly escalating rises in the cost of living, should be treated in such a callous and uncaring manner”.

“The Workers Party is adding its voice to the growing demands for management to propose a realistic pay settlement in line with staff expectations and one which will recognise the massive hike in living costs and the invaluable contribution these workers make to our everyday lives”, Lily said.