With the election of a hard-right Tory government promising new restrictions on the right to strike, it is more urgent than ever that the entire labour movement unites to resist anti-union laws.
The Free Our Unions campaign is now by dozens of unions branches, committees, and local Labour Parties, as well as three national trade unions – IWGB, FBU, and RMT. It was initially established to promote and amplify policies passed at Labour Party conferences calling for the abolition of all anti-union laws, and to demand Labour fight for this policy in opposition and commit to enacting it in government.
The campaign now plans renewed campaigning against the Tories’ proposed new laws, and is calling for united and coordinated activity between existing campaign groups currently active on these issues.
This is a briefing for workplace activists on the differences between refusing unsafe work, as defined under health and safety legislation, and “industrial action”, under the terms of existing legislation including the anti-union legislation Free Our Unions fights to abolish. In legal terms, “refusing unsafe work” and “industrial action” are not the same thing! TheContinue reading “Refusing unsafe work, industrial action, and the law: a briefing for workplace activists”
Thanks to Janine Booth, railway worker, RMT activist, and supporter of our campaign, for this new video in support of Free Our Unions. Please share widely! Image credits:cromaconceptovisual (coronavirus and health workers), Clker-Free-Vector-Images (shackled hands and la lutta), OpenClipart-Vectors (strike triangle and voting) – all on PixabayRwendland / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0) (Labour Party conference)
We’ve seen some articles recently arguing that “unions are back”, pointing to trade unions’ role in speaking up for workers’ rights, and against any reckless back-to-work drive from the government, for examples in schools, during the pandemic. Many trade unionists might respond: “We never went away!” Union reps and activists in workplaces across the countryContinue reading ““Unions are back”? Let’s fight to free them!”
Image: a socially-distanced picket line of postal workers, during a wildcat strike for workplace safety. By Riccardo La Torre and Sacha Ismail Originally posted on the website of the Fire Brigades Union, here. Since the Covid-19 crisis hit, many workers, including those working in hospitals, libraries, construction and in the postal service, have taken unofficialContinue reading “In the coronavirus crisis, do workers have the right to strike?”
For International Workers’ Day (1 May) 2020, Free Our Unions is calling on labour movement activists and supporters to raise their voice – in support of workers taking action in the crisis to stand up for their rights and for safety, and for the abolition of the anti-union laws which constrain such action. We say:“Support workers’ action for rightsContinue reading “This May Day, support workers’ action for rights and safety”
Already in the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve seen examples of workers taking industrial action, often to improve workplace safety. Outsourced cleaners, caterers, and porters at Lewisham Hospital walked out to demand the payment unpaid wages. Workers in Lambeth libraries took action to demand the closure of their workplaces. Postal workers in Bridgend struck, after bosses refuseContinue reading “Covid-19 crisis: Protect the right to strike!”
Poetry on the Picket Line, a collective of poets active in and around the labour movement, will be hosting a benefit gig for the Free Our Unions campaign at the Betsey Trotwood (56 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3BL), at 19:30 on 3 March.
The Fire Brigades Union, one of three national trade unions to support the Free Our Unions campaign, has submitted the following motion to the Labour East Regional Conference, which takes place over the weekend of 22-23 February.
The Free Our Unions campaign has written to other campaign groups active on similar issues to propose joint activity to resist the threat of new anti-strike laws. The following letter was sent to the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom, the Institute for Employment Rights, the National Shop Stewards Network, and Unite the Resistance.
The Free Our Unions campaign has written to all the Labour leadership and deputy leadership candidates asking them to sign the following pledge.
In his government’s first Queen’s Speech, Boris Johnson has announced that he plans to introduce new laws to restrict strikes. There could be little clearer indication of the class loyalties of his government than this.
Gregor Gall is a visiting professor of industrial relations at the University of Leeds and an affiliate research associate at the University of Glasgow. He supports the Free Our Unions campaign. Gregor spoke to Free Our Unions about the commitments on workers’ and trade union rights in the Labour Party manifesto, and the wider issues they raise.
This article, by Gregor Gall, was originally published on Jacobin in November 2019. Find it here. In 1980s Britain, miners went on strike in support of nurses’ pay claims, throwing their industrial muscle behind under-pressure hospital staff. After decades of harsh anti-union laws, Labour’s manifesto promises a way to rebuild this culture of solidarity.
Published 23rd November 2019. In the general election, Free Our Unions is working to kick out the Tories and win a government led by Jeremy Corbyn. In the words of a Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack, a Labour government can “deliver a shift in power away from wealthy elites and towards workers. The ToriesContinue reading “Labour’s manifesto and the right to strike: a welcome step forward, more to fight for”
Published 13th November 2019. The High Court injunction granted to Royal Mail to prevent postal workers from striking, despite their overwhelming vote to do so, highlights the profoundly undemocratic nature of Britain’s anti-trade union laws, and the urgent need for the whole labour movement to renew our fight for their abolition – including by demanding that theContinue reading “Royal Mail’s anti-strike injunction is an affront to democracy”