Unions attack King’s Speech as ‘cheap electioneering and missed opportunity’ to help workers

The Government has been accused of “turning its back” on workers as union leaders criticised the absence again of a promised employment Bill.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak described the speech as “cheap electioneering”.

He added: “This is a desperate last throw of the dice from the Conservatives.

“There is nothing in today’s King’s Speech to fix the country’s problems.

“Ministers have turned their back on working people.

“Having promised numerous times to bring forward an employment Bill to tackle insecure work, the Tories have junked this promise and are now attacking people’s fundamental right to strike.

“Instead of fixing our crumbling public services, the Government is trying to blame paramedics, teachers and other key workers for their failures.

“With families across the country facing a cost-of-living crisis, rowing back on net zero commitments will do nothing to bring down bills or to deliver better jobs and pay.

“We can’t go on like this. The Conservatives have broken Britain.”

Mike Clancy, general secretary of the Prospect union, said: “This King’s Speech was a missed opportunity to show working people that the Government understands the pressures of inflation, wages and living costs over the past few years.

“There was nothing in this speech to deliver the jobs, investment and hope that the country needs either to tackle the cost-of-living crisis or create new opportunities in science, technology and engineering.

“This is now clearly a lame duck administration for workplace rights.

“Working people will need to look to beyond the next election for any hope of improvement.”

Unison’s general secretary Christina McAnea said: “This is a government with nothing left to offer. There was little announced today that will make the slightest bit of difference to the many real and deep-seated problems the country faces.

“This is a legislative programme heavy on cheap political points but light on policies to right the wrongs of years of foolhardy austerity.

“Conservative governments’ neglect and underfunding of public services have harmed the economy and everyone’s the poorest they’ve ever felt.

“More than four years since the Conservatives promised to fix social care, it doesn’t even get a mention.

“There’s still no plan to end the crisis and give millions of desperate people comfort for the future.”

Royal College of Nursing chief nurse, Professor Nicola Ranger, said: “The Prime Minister has failed to deliver legislation to address the crisis in the nursing workforce and our NHS and patients will continue to pay the price until at least the next election.

“The future of health and care services will be defined by whether politicians listen to those who work in them.

“Right now, nursing staff are caring for people in corridors, unsafe numbers of patients, and they’re raising the alarm over record shortages.

“The Government should have used the King’s Speech to address issues facing the health care workforce, including legislating for safe staffing.

“England is an outlier even within the UK now and countries around the world are moving ahead with laws of this kind.

“While it is positive that the Government is progressing anti-smoking plans, we are deeply concerned on the lack of progress on reform to the Mental Health Act.

“It is also bitterly disappointing that the ban on sexual orientation and gender identity conversion therapy has been dropped.

“It’s been five wasted years of hollow promises to ban these abhorrent practices that nursing staff know have no medical basis.

“Nursing staff are crystal clear that they, and the services we all rely on, are close to broken.”

Dr Emma Runswick, deputy chairwoman of council at the British Medical Association, said: “The Government today showed it has the wrong priorities for the NHS. Instead of presenting ways to support and expand the medical workforce it has chosen to repress it and devalue it.

“We have made very clear our opposition to the harsh anti-strike legislation presented in this King’s Speech and will continue to do our utmost to ensure that the freedom to partake in industrial action is protected for all health workers.

“The strike action doctors have been forced into this year has all been done while already preserving minimum levels of staffing to ensure patient safety.

“Any further restrictions will be nothing more than an attack on workers rights on top of what are already the tightest restriction on trade unions in Europe.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2023, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Leon Neal / PA.