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Govt ‘acts like Yosir Hughes’ boys from Blackstuff on strike law’

In Westminster, the UK government has been accused of acting like Yosher Hughes regarding the strike law.

Former TUC chair Baroness Donaghy argued that the “Gizza Job” catchphrase of the fictional character in Alan Blaisdale’s gritty TV drama Boys from the Blackstuff was being parroted by the Tory administration demanding “Gizza Power”.

She voiced her criticism as the Strikes (Minimum Service Level) Bill continued its rocky passage through the House of Lords.

There has been strong opposition to proposed legislation, which would allow ministers to impose minimum levels of service on ambulance crews, firefighters, railway workers and other areas deemed essential during industrial action.

Labor has promised to repeal the law if it takes office.

Among the concerns is the effect of the move on the devolved governments of Wales and Scotland, which are responsible for many of the services covered by the Bill’s provisions.

Labor peer Lady Donaghy said: “It is a disgrace to those countries that power should be imposed.

“There will be an overall power, the details of which are not known and which the Welsh and Scottish administrations will have to accept.

“We are talking about the tone here, the tone of the employment relationship.

“I’m not saying that services are better in Wales or Scotland in particular, but the tone of the relationship is what can be so badly damaged.”

Boys from the Blackstuff (L) writer Alan Blaisdale with Julie Walters, who played Yosser Hughes’ wife in the BBC TV series, and Ian McKellen who played Walter in the Channel 4 TV play (PA).

Recalling the 1982 Liverpool-based series Boys from the Blackstuff, she said: “There’s a character called Yasser Hughes who went around saying ‘the Giza job’.

“In this case this government is saying ‘Giza Power. We don’t know what we’re going to do with it.

“We can’t tell you now. We promise to consult you, but ‘Giza Power’.

“That’s the main principle, you’re asking us for ‘Giza Power’ and you’re not telling us how you’re going to use it.”

Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, former Chief Justice of England and Wales: “This Bill deals with services.

“This is not a Bill which deals with industrial relations, employment rights and duties.

“So it seems to me that this is a matter which is not reserved (for the UK Parliament).”

The independent crossbencher said: “The result is an undermining of democracy.

“It is to reduce accountability.

“This Bill, by shifting responsibility for minimum levels of services, is taking it away from those who are accountable to the people of Wales and Scotland.

“It seems to me that it is absolutely wrong that we should proceed on this basis.”

But responding, government frontbencher Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist said: “Employment rights and duties and industrial relations are reserved in relation to Scotland and Wales.

“The government has a duty to protect the lives and livelihoods of citizens in the United Kingdom.

“The disproportionate impact that strikes have on the public is no less serious than on the people of Scotland or Wales.

“They have every right to expect the government to act to ensure that they continue to have access to vital public services during strikes.”


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