The government continues its relentless attacks on the working class

Today sees one of the biggest attacks on the working class in modern history, with the government attempting to take away our rights to strike and protest.

The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill is going through its third reading in Parliament today and if passed, would allow the government to make regulations setting out the minimum service required in certain sectors during strikes.

Strikes would become ineffective, unions could be sued for failing to comply with the new law and workers could lose their protection from unfair dismissal.

The government should be negotiating to resolve the current crisis they have caused, not create yet another dangerous distraction.

With rent, bills and food costs rising, public sector workers across the UK are rightly asking for a better deal and the British public supports them, despite the vicious attacks from the political and media establishment.

A survey this month found that more that 47% of Britons support public sector workers going on strike to secure pay rises in line with inflation, while half as many (23%) oppose this action. 

February 1st will see one of the biggest coordinated strike actions in modern history, with hundreds of thousands of public sector workers, teachers, civil servants, university lecturers and train drivers coming together to demand better.

February 6th will also see ambulance workers and nurses striking together, which will be the biggest NHS walkout in this dispute.

We at the Breakthrough Party will be standing shoulder to shoulder with workers on picket lines and at demos across the country to show our unwavering solidarity.

Not only are we seeing the right to take effective industrial action disappear before our eyes, but also our fundamental right to protest.

The Public Order Bill has been described by human rights organisations as ‘draconian’ and ‘dystopian’, and is now going through the House of Lords.

The government is saying the legislation will crack down on the disruption to the British public and stop the wastage of police resources, but let’s call this what it is: the silencing of an increasingly angry working class.

So, what does the Public Order Bill actually do?

It contains rejected parts of the Police, Crimes, Sentencing and Courts Act, which were defeated in the House of Lords, including orders that can ban named individuals from joining protests, an expansion of police powers to stop and search people on the grounds they might be planning to commit a protest-related offence and powers for ‘suspicionless’ searches around protests.

New additions include creating new offences of ‘locking on’, where protesters chain or glue themselves to immovable objects or each other, going to protests equipped to lock on, obstructing major transport works, interfering with national infrastructure and tunnelling – all tactics used by the likes of Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain.

The government also wants to drastically expand police powers, giving the police power to ban protests, or a series of protests, ahead of them being held. A protest only has to be ‘more than minor interference’ to be counted as ‘serious disruption’, with the judgement over what is minor left to the police to predict, ahead of the proposed protest.

Like many government policy proposals, this is at odds with the mood among the British public. A survey in November last year found that 66% of people back nonviolent action to protect the environment.

Not only that, the measures in the bill have been criticised by the police themselves, the Home Office, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, and former senior police advisors for being ‘unworkable’ and incompatible with the UK’s international human rights obligations.

The police already have a wide range of powers available at their disposal, and we at Breakthrough believe these should be reduced, not increased.

Not only that, we believe stop and search needs to be abolished, along with other socially harmful practices which disproportionately impact marginalised communities.

The government wants to shut us up, they want to strip us of our fundamental rights, criminalise us for fighting for the causes we believe in and they want to hide from accountability.

Unions are our voice. Protest is our voice. We cannot let them take our voice away.

We must take to the streets and fight against these bills every step of the way.