Defending rights won by sacrifice and hardship.

Rakiya Suleman
Rakiya Suleman

#STUC2016 UNISON’s Rakiya Suleman has called on trade unions to unite in fighting the Anti-Union Bill and defend rights won over decades, ‘involving sacrifices and hardships that we find difficult to imagine.’

She said: “Our movement did not arise out of a spirit of benevolence and partnership on the part of employers.  The rights we have were won over decades, and involving sacrifices and hardships that we find difficult to imagine.

“Won in situations every bit as challenging as those international struggles we support today.

“And having won those rights; the right to organise; the right to act in defence of our members; the right to campaign for a decent society. We should not give them up lightly – Congress we should not give them up at all!”

Rakiya called for unions to welcome political support wherever it comes from, applaud employers who will resist the Bill and explore every legal and parliamentary mechanism available.

“But in the event that these mechanisms do not deliver – it is right that we pledge our support for those who will find themselves on the wrong side of this law”, she said.

“Unity is strength – we know that, and they know that.  So let us show unity in taking on this attack on our freedoms – here today and in our workplaces.”

Rakiya was backing a motion from the General Council, Unite, PCS and the Prison Officers Association, which called for support for unions who ‘choose to defy undemocratic attempts’ to curb union rights on ballot thresholds, agency workers to break strikes and repressive picketing legislation.

The STUC will work with any employer who refused to comply with these attacks, it will support union organising, continue its broad based campaign, and empower workers in non union workplaces to stand up against bad employment practices while unionising new workplaces.

But while our fight is a critical one, Rakiya also highlighted the struggles of workers elsewhere in the world.

“We have brothers and sisters across the world who would view even working under these restrictions as a massive step forward.

“They face – not worries about reaching ballot thresholds, but the risk of arrest. The restriction on their political campaigning is the possibility of being killed.”

 She warned that we should remember that the rights we have were won in the face of just those circumstances.

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