HC Deb 08 March 1983 vol 38 cc693-4
5. Mr. Winnick

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he has any plans to introduce legislation to remove the right to strike from any groups of employees.

Mr. Tebbit

No, Sir.

Mr. Winnick

Has not the Secretary of State told the Select Committee on Employment what he may have in mind for workers in essential services? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that what is needed is not the removal of the right to strike from any group of workers, but his own removal from office, since he has degraded a distinguished office of state by his notorious political behaviour and antics? Bearing in mind his plans for trade unionists, would he not be far better off in present-day Chile, Argentina or Poland, where he would be more at home with the rulers of those dictatorships?

Mr. Tebbit

I shall resist the temptation to suggest some of the countries where the hon. Gentleman would find himself more at home. I shall repeat the answer that he clearly did not hear. I have no plans to legislate away the right to strike. I am considering—and I think the public would want me to consider—means to inhibit the propensity of people to strike in essential public services.

Mr. Gorst

Is my right hon. Friend aware that when the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress appeared before the Select Committee last Wednesday he said that the Government had an obligation to take the necessary measures to protect public health and safety?

Mr. Tebbit

Yes; and I notice that the general secretary of the TUC referred to the duty of the Government and their powers to use the armed forces to that end.

Mr. Ashley

While the Secretary of State is in the mood to resist temptation, will he try to resist the temptation to undertake a vendetta against trade unions, which is what he is doing, thereby reducing the liberty of the individual? Does he accept that he may win a short-term victory, but that it will end in long-term disaster for industrial relations in this.country?

Mr. Tebbit

I have no vendetta against the trade unions. I have every intention to do what I can to ensure that the members of trade unions are assured of their rights in relation to politically motivated leadership, which often forces them out on strike and acts against their best interests.

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

Does my right hon. Friend agree that in many of the public services where there is a monopoly there is virtual absolute job security and that people who have such job security have a greater responsibility than others when there is a dispute? Does my right hon. Friend further agree that if he is contemplating changing the law about the right to strike those who have absolute job security should be the first to be looked at?

Mr. Tebbit

No one has absolute job security. Those who go on strike in breach of their contracts with their employers lay themselves open to dismissal.