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28 Jan 2022

All aboard the Trade Union Freedom Bill train

People Before Profit councillor, Shaun Harkin, says formal introduction of motion at Stormont could lead to stronger workplace protections if passed by the Assembly

All aboard the Trade Union Freedom Bill train

Cllr Shaun Harkin: "It's time to get Thatcher's reactionary rules off our backs. It's time to end the imbalance at work that favours corporations and elites."

A Trade Union bill first initiated by former Foyle MLA Eamonn McCann to roll back legislation brought in by Margaret Thatcher could finally be put into place at Stormont.

People Before Profit MLA, Gerry Carroll's Trade Union Freedom Bill has been formally introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly – years after his party colleague McCann had done the groundwork for such a motion to be put forward.

Though it has only passed the initial introduction stage, should the Bill go through the subsequent readings at the Assembly and eventually be voted into law, the difference felt by Derry's workers who are trade union members could be seismic.

Derry City & Strabane District Councillor, Shaun Harkin – who is also from People Before Profit – says the Bill will provide a number of safeguards for trade union members in the city and the rest of the North, including protection for going out on strike.

He said: “It's extremely welcome news for People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll's Trade Union Freedom Bill to be formally introduced in Stormont.

“This piece of legislation was first initiated by Eamonn McCann and will make a real difference to all working class communities is passed by the Assembly.

“The Trade Union Freedom Bill will legalise the right to take solidarity action, it will remove barriers to workers joining trade unions, it will bring balloting online and into the 21st century, and it will provide protection for workers who have been dismissed as a result of taking industrial action.

“Unscrupulous employers have gotten extremely rich, even reaching great heights on wealth leagues, through the failure of the Stormont Executive to undo reactionary Thatcher-era trade union rules designed to undercut workers rights.

“We're all expected to stand in awe at billionaire bosses but the pandemic has shown our complete dependence on frontline workers.

“Those same essential workers are often low-paid, suffer poor conditions and are denied the democratic right to trade union representation.

“We hear political establishment parties wax lyrical about essential workers but despite having the power to change these laws no party in the Executive has attempted to do so in more than twenty years.

“This speaks to the rotten cozy relationship between elites and government.

“It's time to get Thatcher's reactionary rules off our backs. It's time to end the imbalance at work that favours corporations and elites. It's time to see all workers begin to be treated with respect and dignity.

“We urge everyone to join the call for Stormont to support and pass into law the Trade Union Freedom Bill.”

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