ONE of the most striking images that came out of this year’s Pride in Glasgow saw striking rail workers, trade unionists and LGBTQ+ activists come together outside Central Station. They were standing behind a giant banner that read “support the strike”. It was a powerful image and an important moment of solidarity on the picket lines.

A few minutes later, a fire engine, driven by reps of the Fire Brigade Union had driven past ringing a siren of support and waving rainbow flags as it made its way to the start of the protest.

At the same time as the unions were standing in solidarity, the Prime Minister and his colleagues were trying their best to undermine that unity. The RMT has done an amazing job of winning and mobilising support for its strike, despite a hostile media.

Last week, following a long campaign of misinformation from Downing Street, the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced plans to “quickly” change legislation to make it easier for companies to hire agency staff to work during strike action.

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It was a clear and unambiguous threat against the rights of workers and unions across the UK to organise, withdraw their labour, and hold their employers – including Governments – to account.

Fixing the rules so that agency staff can be used to replace striking workers deeply undermines workers’ rights. But, on top of that, it will also create serious health and safety risks for the public and the workforce.

Unfortunately, this is far from the first time that a Conservative Government in Westminster has targeted unionised workers.

The anti-trade union laws that were brought in under Thatcher and continued by Blair are well known. Despite what the Tories say now, the decimation of the coal industry in the 1980s had absolutely nothing to do with environmentalism and everything to do with the anti-trade union ideology that has underpinned their governments.

There have been more recent moves too. With curbs on the right to ballot and strike, the 2016 Trade Union Act set the tone for an all-out assault on the ability to organise. But even that disgraceful act stopped short of scrapping the ban on agency workers covering striking workforces, a ban that has been in place since 1973.

This latest move is yet another calculated attack from a Tory government that is all too happy to wage a “culture war” against workers and to scapegoat and demonise trade unions in order to distract from its own catalogue of catastrophic failings.

Alongside this, there are further proposals from the UK Government to dispose of over 2000 pieces of retained EU law, including many that relate to workers rights. Workers across the UK are set to end up with the weakest rights and protections across Europe and, given half the chance, the Tories will make them even worse. They say that it’s to stop what they call “militancy” but, even taken on its own terms, this is a self-defeating approach: you can’t improve industrial relations by slashing people’s rights.

Trade union membership may have fallen since the disputes of the 1970s and 80s, but their role is still utterly vital. Unions have always been instrumental in securing better working conditions and rights for all of us.

Whether it is minimum wage, paid holidays, weekends, safety legislation or better pay and conditions, these are just some of the rights that have been hard fought and won by organised, unionised workers. These advances haven’t been given by benevolent governments, they have been fought for and won. Put simply, every worker in Scotland, and all across the UK, is better off today because of the work of our unions.

The voice of unions could not be more important. We are facing the worst cost of living crisis in decades. Inequality is growing, household bills are escalating, rents are soaring, and inflation is hitting an all-time high.

Everyone should be paid a good wage that they can live off of and that will lift them out of poverty, yet across the country millions of households are being hit by real-terms cuts in their incomes.

As long as the Tories remain in power we will see more cuts, more austerity, more anti-worker legislation and more divisive rhetoric.

Whether it is the British Airways baggage handlers – who have just voted for strike action – or the Royal Mail workers who have just begun balloting to do the same, we could be looking at the biggest wave of industrial action for a generation.

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I met with Mick Lynch from the RMT this week and he spoke of a “simmering summer” where workers are at breaking point and have no option but to withdraw their labour.

As Greens, we will always do everything we can to champion trade unions and defend workers’ rights using the limited powers Holyrood has now and the further powers that will hopefully come.

Next year’s independence referendum will not just be a question about who runs Scotland, it will be a question of what kind of society we want and the Scotland we can be. We want unions to play a strong role in shaping our future and some, like the RMT, also want to see the people of Scotland decide through a referendum.

We will end the disgraceful race-to-the-bottom that we are seeing from Boris Johnson in terms of workers’ rights and ensure that unions are at the heart of our vision and recovery.

Scotland can build on those inspiring moments of solidarity shown at Pride to create the fairer country that we all need.