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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.

Free Our Unions was initiated by The Clarion magazine and Lambeth Unison. It is now backed by dozens of unions branches, committees, and local Labour Parties. Four national trade unions – IWGB, FBU, RMT, and PCS – have supported the campaign via their Annual General Meetings and/or National Executive Committees. It was initially established to promote and amplify policies passed at Labour Party conferences calling for the abolition of all anti-union laws, not only the most recent, and to demand Labour fight for this policy in opposition and commit to enacting it in government. (For more background to the campaign, click here.)

Free Our Unions 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.


Video: Disabled people for free trade unions

The speeches from our May public meeting are now online. The meeting was co-organised with RMT Disabled Members’ Advisory Committee and Neurodivergent Labour, and featured contributions from: Mario Kyriacou, Tower Hamlets UnisonElane Heffernan, Disabled Members’ Rep, UCU NECJanine Booth, Secretary, RMT Disabled Members’ Advisory CommitteeDavid King, Chair, RMT Disabled Members’ Advisory Committee

GMB Congress takes strong stand against anti-union laws

The 2021 congress of the GMB, Britain’s third largest trade union, took place on 6-8 June. The congress passed the following resolution on the issue of anti-union legislation. Congress notes: • The Tories’ 2019 election manifesto included further attacks on the right to strike,i.e. the requirement for ‘Minimum Service Agreements’ in any railway strike, inContinue reading “GMB Congress takes strong stand against anti-union laws”

Online meeting, Tuesday 29 June, 6:30pm: 1871 and the fight for free trade unions

Join the Free Our Unions campaign and the Fire Brigades Union for a meeting and discussion marking the 150th anniversary of the 1871 Trade Union Act, to draw lessons from the 19th century struggle for our fight against anti-union laws and for free trade unions for today. Speaker: Simon Hannah, Lambeth Unison branch secretary, author,Continue reading “Online meeting, Tuesday 29 June, 6:30pm: 1871 and the fight for free trade unions”

Angela Rayner: “Repeal the anti-union laws of the 1980s”

In September 2014, Labour Party deputy leader Angela Rayner (then an official of public-sector union Unison, not yet an MP) spoke at a Manchester Trades Council public meeting about the need to repeal the many anti-strike/anti-trade union laws introduced by the Tories in the 1980s and ’90s, right back to Thatcher’s first Employment Act in 1980.  She wrote aContinue reading “Angela Rayner: “Repeal the anti-union laws of the 1980s””

The implications of the Police Bill for workers and unions

By Professor Gregor Gall, Visiting Professor of Industrial Relations, University of Leeds Though there are many different aspects to the 2021 Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the Government has made it clear that those parts pertaining to public order result from its desire to clamp down on Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Black Lives MatterContinue reading “The implications of the Police Bill for workers and unions”

‘Solidarity at Work: The Case for Free Trade Unions’: a pamphlet from Thames Central CWU branch, 1997

Free Our Unions is proud to recirculate this pamphlet, written by Communication Workers Union (CWU) activists Maria Exall and Paul Moore, and published by the Thames Central branch of the CWU in 1997. The arguments within it still have resonance today, and give historical context for ongoing debates about how the labour movement should approachContinue reading “‘Solidarity at Work: The Case for Free Trade Unions’: a pamphlet from Thames Central CWU branch, 1997”

“Workers have never been gifted anything. We’ve protested and won.”

This is a speech given by Fire Brigades Union National Officer and Free Our Unions activist Riccardo la Torre at the 2021 May Day protest in Southend in Essex. A transcript of the speech is below the video. I’m Riccardo la Torre from the Fire Brigades Union, bringing May Day solidarity to all of you. It’s fantastic,Continue reading ““Workers have never been gifted anything. We’ve protested and won.””

Does a “New Deal for Workers” mean scrapping the Tories’ anti-union laws?

By Sacha Ismail On 1 May a “May Day manifesto” by John Hendy and Keith Ewing was published in the Morning Star, under the headline “A New Deal for Workers”. (Read it in text format here.) A New Deal for Workers is a slogan that has been used by the TUC and various unions, particularlyContinue reading “Does a “New Deal for Workers” mean scrapping the Tories’ anti-union laws?”

Online meeting, Tuesday 18 May, 6:30pm: Disabled people for free trade unions

Tuesday 18 May, 6:30pm Log in via Zoom here. Britain’s anti-trade-union legislation makes it harder for unions to fight for the rights of disabled workers and disabled people more generally. They require unions to follow inaccessible voting procedures. They put hurdles in the way of striking for disabled people’s rights. They restrict unions’ campaigning onContinue reading “Online meeting, Tuesday 18 May, 6:30pm: Disabled people for free trade unions”

The Police Bill, unions, and strikes (Online briefing, 6:30pm Tuesday 27 April)

An online briefing for trade unionists. Log in via Zoom here. The Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill poses a grave threat to the freedom to protest and dissent. Free Our Unions is hosting this online briefing for trade unionists, delivered by Professor Gregor Gall, labour movement academic and activist. Attendees will be briefed on:Continue reading “The Police Bill, unions, and strikes (Online briefing, 6:30pm Tuesday 27 April)”

Striking for the climate? Free Our Unions public meeting, Tuesday 13 April, 6:30pm

TUESDAY 13 APRIL, 6:30PMLOG IN VIA ZOOM HERE. Facebook event here. Our window to stop and reverse worsening climate catastrophe is narrowing. To defeat climate change, we need to radical action from governments, and, ultimately, a change in how our economies are organised. To achieve that, workers need to take action. But in the UK,Continue reading “Striking for the climate? Free Our Unions public meeting, Tuesday 13 April, 6:30pm”

Composite motion for Momentum policy primary

UPDATE: The Momentum policy primary is now open. For more info, including on how to vote, click here. Free Our Unions, the Fire Brigades Union, and two local Momentum groups (Brent and Southampton) submitted similar motions to the “policy primary” Momentum is currently running to determine which motions it will encourage supporters to submit toContinue reading “Composite motion for Momentum policy primary”

How anti-union laws harm the fight for disabled people’s rights

By Janine Booth, Secretary, RMT Disabled Members’ Advisory Committee Britain’s anti-trade-union legislation makes it harder for unions to fight for the rights of disabled workers and disabled people more generally. How? Limiting issues on which unions may lawfully take action Trade unions may take lawful industrial action only in pursuit of ‘bona fide trade disputes’.Continue reading “How anti-union laws harm the fight for disabled people’s rights”