Grant Shapps’s anti-strike law

Tory Business Secretary Grant Shapps’ claim to fame is his use of aliases as a ruse to con people to part with money to support his dodgy faux businesses.  That is, he a tōraidhe1 as a person and as a politician.

On 10th January 2023 he presented a bill to parliament, Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill (SMSL), that restricts the human right to strike for workers in certain jobs.  When the bill becomes law employers, public and private, will be able to set an arbitrary “minimum” workforce including workers for specific tasks.  Anyone deemed to be part of the minimum workforce will be denied the human right to strike and if they strike the law will allow the employer to sack them immediately.  Any action by a trades’ union to encourage people to strike will lead to the employer taking money from the union via court action.

SMSL has the following objectives

  1. Assist employer exploitation of workers by removing the vital pressure tool of strike action
  2. Steal money from unions to lessen their effectiveness
  3. Blame unions and strikers for poor services

Most of the named industries are (currently) public services including health, fire, transport and education.  Failure in quality in these services is entirely the result of deliberate Tory policy.  The government is following the libertarian template of destroying public services and replacing them with privateer racketeer systems.  People are dying as a consequence of Tory ideology to kill NHS.

Britain has an insipid political opposition – Starmer’s Labour – and complicit media.  However, strong focussed trades’ unions provided effective opposition to Tory destruction in the last year.  Strikes and threats of strikes enabled unions to acquire reasonable pay and/or working conditions for their members.  

Sharon Graham (centre), General Secretary of UNITE

The success of strong union action in one industry encouraged similar successes in others.  Union representatives elucidated well the motivations and aims of Tories, and they handled biased media questioning with aplomb.  At select committee hearings they responded expertly to Tory MPs’ dishonesty, misdirection and professional stupidity.  For example, watch General Secretary of the RMT Mick Lynch and General Secretary of ASLEF Mick Whelan counter nonsense from Tory Greg Smith and others on 11th January (2023): Select Committee Hearing

The ability of union representatives to communicate clearly, consistently and decisively is a simple consequence of the fact that they know what they are doing is right and honest.  They are knowledgeable of their industries, of the political relationship between employer and employee and of Tories’ true objectives and ideology.  They have no need to be evasive.  Combination of knowledge and surety of their roles means they can converse easily and successfully with any combatant, and also can speak directly to the public with facts and logic.

Union representatives’ skills in communication contrast starkly with those of Tories and their collaborators.  For Tories, every communication – in parliament, to media, in statements – is dishonest by necessity.  They cannot reveal their real intent and so everything they say is presented as an array of misrepresentations, misdirection, distractions and lies.  They are con artists.  To succeed, they must never diverge from the con.

The diametrically opposed communication capabilities of union representatives and Tories – the former honest and confident, the latter slimy and deceitful – stems from the former believing what they say whereas the latter know that everything they say is made up and often opposite to the truth.

Given recent successes of unions, the government and its collaborators are very fearful.  They fear not just the impact on financial exploitation by employers but also the inspiration the successes give people to challenge exploitation and government rhetoric and actions.  Most notably, they fear growth of public awareness due to union representatives’ dissemination of knowledge of how the system works/exploits.  

There is no limit to how far the government will go in its denial of human rights.  It intends to bin all EU laws that offer protection of rights and justice.  Its “investment zones” are charter territories wherein all rights, including democracy, are absent.  Removing the human right to strike was inevitable.

Ideology and methodology of Tory policy is forged in extremist libertarian think-tanks like Institute Of Economic Affairs, Legatum Institute, Centre For Policy Studies, Centre For Social Justice, Tax-Payers’ Alliance and, in USA, Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation.  Tory MPs and peers are members of and contributors to these think-tanks, some MPs and peers were planted in parliament by the think-tanks, some created the think-tanks, and some think-tank members are government advisers.  All the think-tanks are criminally secretive about their funding.  Compliant media yes-platforms think-tank members and presents them as “independent.”  These think-tanks are consistently anti-trades’ union.

A perusal through actions of conservative governments in capitalist countries over the last hundred years shows that banning the human right to strike is rare.  The most famous example is Germany in the mid-1930s.  The human right to strike existed in UK before universal right to vote.  It existed without it being illegal or legal to strike.  Subsequently, laws set restrictions on strikes with some protections of the human right to strike.  1980s Tory governments made several law changes to hamper the human right to strike but didn’t ban strikes.  Shapps’ anti-strike law is a further step by the Tories to corporate fascism.

Tories and their collaborators in media and at think-tanks cannot be honest about the objective of SMSL.  As the Daily Mail headline (below) on 11th January (2023) shows, the strike ban is being presented as protection of vital services, the same services that the government is destroying deliberately as a means of inflicting privatisation.


It must be understood that the Tory government is a gang of thieves, fraudsters and liars whose only aim is further enrichment of the already extremely wealthy and who are vehemently opposed to human rights and to democracy.

1Tōraidhe n. Irish word for robber

Recommended reading
Joshua Rozenberg: How The Work Bill Will Work

Grant Shapps’s anti-strike law

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