THE TUC has announced it will hold a special Congress to discuss the next stage of campaigning against the Conservatives’ anti-strike laws on Saturday 9 December 2023.

It is rare for the TUC to seek to convene the whole trade union movement at a special Congress outside of its flagship annual event in September. A special Congress last took place over 40 years ago in 1982, to oppose Margaret Thatcher’s anti-union legislation. The TUC points to exceptional circumstances given the “unprecedented attack on the right to strike”.

The announcement comes after the government laid regulations for minimum service levels in rail, the ambulance service and border security. Ministers have said these new rules will be rushed into force by the end of the year. Ministers are also consulting on rules affecting workers in hospital settings, schools, universities and fire services, despite warnings from unions and employer groups that the plans are unworkable.

The laws will mean that when workers lawfully vote to strike, they could be forced to attend work and sacked if they do not comply. The TUC says that one in five workers in Britain – or 5.5 million workers – are at risk of losing their right to strike as a result of the Strikes (Minimum service levels) Act.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “After 13 long years of Conservative government, nothing works in this country anymore. But instead of getting on with fixing the mess they have created, the Conservatives are hellbent on making things worse.

“These new laws represent an unprecedented attack on the right to strike. They are unworkable, undemocratic and almost certainly in breach of international law. This is the last thing our crumbling public services or our dedicated frontline workers need – these draconian laws will poison industrial relations and drag out disputes.

“The UK already has some of the most restrictive trade union laws in Europe. Now the Tories want to make it even harder for people to win fair pay and conditions. That’s why we are calling this once in a generation special Congress. Unions will keep fighting this spiteful legislation. We won’t stop until it is repealed.”

* Source: Trades Union Congress