Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has laid down a challenge to out of touch Tory MPs, MSPs and Councillors to meet striking workers on the picket line- after the UK Tory Government unveiled plans to bring in new lines to sack workers and sue their unions if they take industrial action.

Under the current law any worker taking illegal industrial action can already be sacked.

However, the UK Tory Government plan to strengthen the laws against unions who represent fire, ambulance and rail services making it illegal to go on strike if they do not to provide a laid down minimum level of service. They also claim that they will reach voluntary agreements on a minimum level of service for other health, education, transport, border security and nuclear decommissioning workers.

South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth said the new laws would increase anger among workers, leading to more strike action and pointed out that whenever health workers have taken industrial action in the past, they already provide a minimum level of service.

Colin Smyth said: “It doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the failed Tory Government’s response to nurses taking industrial action – because they are sick of the UK and Scottish Government ignoring the crisis in the NHS – is to threaten to bring in laws to sack those nurses.

“When there has been industrial action in the past in the NHS, workers have always continued to provide emergency cover, which is more than can be said for our two Governments who are the ones failing patients by not delivering a minimum service, not the nurses and doctors.

“Our Governments need to tackle the causes of the strike action.

“As a proud trade unionist I have spent a fair bit of time on the picket lines with rail workers, teachers, college and University staff, our posties and BT Openreach workers in recent months and I will do the same if nurses end up on strike.

“I would challenge every local Tory MP, MSP and Councillor to join me and actually speak to those workers instead of threatening to sack them.

“If they did, they would find out that not a single person on the picket line wants to be there, losing their wages at a time our Governments are presiding over a cost of living crisis.

“They have been forced into that position because bosses and our Governments are failing to get round the table and negotiate. It seems that local Tory politicians have gone from clapping for key workers to threatening them with the sack if they take lawful action against planned pay cuts. That will simply make it even more difficult to recruit people to those key jobs and such bully boy tactics are likely to increase strike action, not reduce it.”

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