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.

Labour policy on the anti-union laws: build back better!

By Sacha Ismail At a recent meeting organised by the Labour Representation Committee, I asked speaker Laura Pidcock, former shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights, about Labour’s policy on the right to strike during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. I asked why, in terms of scrapping anti-strike laws, the party generally limited itself to repealing theContinue reading “Labour policy on the anti-union laws: build back better!”

Workers' rights are human rights

Has picketing been banned in the new lockdown?

In November 2020, Unite pursued a legal challenge over the right to picket during lockdown, after a picket of bus workers was broken up by police. That challenge was successful, clearly establishing the right to picket in lockdown. Exception 22 of the “Coronavirus: The Health Protection (Coronavius, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020” clearly statesContinue reading “Has picketing been banned in the new lockdown?”

A Trade Union Freedom Bill in Stormont: interview with Gerry Carroll MLA

Gerry Carroll is Northern Ireland Assembly Member (MLA) for Belfast West, and a member of People Before Profit (PBP). He spoke to Free Our Unions about PBP’s “Trade Union Freedom Bill”, which aims to reform legislation in the north of Ireland to make it easier for workers to organise and take action. For more infoContinue reading “A Trade Union Freedom Bill in Stormont: interview with Gerry Carroll MLA”

Vermont AFL-CIO

UK union observers attend US trade union convention as it passes historic general strike resolution

By Daniel Randall, Assistant Chair, RMT Bakerloo branch Reposted from the RMT London Calling website Three activists from the RMT Bakerloo branch attended, via Zoom, the Saturday 21 November convention of the Vermont State Labour Council (AFL-CIO) as observers. The convention was attended by nearly 100 delegates and guests, from local union branches and campaign groups, asContinue reading “UK union observers attend US trade union convention as it passes historic general strike resolution”

The Democrats, Labour, and “secondary boycotts”

Keir Starmer has praised Joe Biden and urged Labour to learn from the Democrats’ victory in the US presidential election. Starmer should learn from the proposals on workers’ rights the Democrats made. The Democratic Party platform promised to “prioritize passing the PRO Act and restoring workers’ rights, including the right to launch secondary boycotts”. The US termContinue reading “The Democrats, Labour, and “secondary boycotts””

Cetin Avsar

Oppose union busting at the Crick Institute: defend Cetin Avsar!

Security guard and union activist Cetin Avsar has been threatened with dismissal by his employer, Wilson James Ltd., who said in a letter that his opposition to outsourcing, and role in leading a strike for direct employment in his previous workplace, St. George’s University of south London, represent a “conflict of interest”. Cetin is currentlyContinue reading “Oppose union busting at the Crick Institute: defend Cetin Avsar!”

Government concedes right to picket during lockdown

Following a Unite legal challenge, the government has conceded the right to picket during lockdown. We repost the following from the Unite website: The government has been forced to confirm that workers taking lawful industrial action have a right to picket their workplace during the Covid-19 lockdown. In doing so they have vetoed the actionsContinue reading “Government concedes right to picket during lockdown”

Defend the right to picket during lockdown!

Free Our Unions opposes any attempt to use lockdown as a pretext for further restricting workers’ rights to organise and take action. Protests and pickets can be conducted safely, in appropriately distanced conditions. We support Unite’s judicial review, undertaken in defence of the right to picket, following police obstruction of a bus factory workers’ picketContinue reading “Defend the right to picket during lockdown!”

Northern Ireland Assembly Member proposes “Trade Union Freedom Bill”

Gerry Carroll, a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, has tabled a private member’s bill proposing the abolition of all Thatcher-era anti-union and anti-strike laws. The power to alter these laws is devolved to the Stormont Assembly. This is the first time any MLA has proposed amending them. Although many Free Our Unions supporters areContinue reading “Northern Ireland Assembly Member proposes “Trade Union Freedom Bill””

Vermont AFL-CIO

US trade unionists discuss strikes to stop a Trump coup

In both the US and the UK, political strikes are illegal. Nevertheless, US trade unionists are discussing the possibility of strikes to oppose attempts by far-right president Donald Trump to sabotage the upcoming election. We republish an interview with David Van Deusen, president of the Vermont State Labour Council, the local organisation of the AFL-CIO,Continue reading “US trade unionists discuss strikes to stop a Trump coup”

TUC agrees to organise a demo and conference to oppose anti-union laws

The annual congress of the TUC, which took place on 14-15 September, adopted a resolution proposed by the TUC Trades Councils conference, calling for renewed campaigning against anti-union laws, including a demonstration and a special conference for workplace reps. Free Our Unions strongly supports and welcomes this resolution, and looks forward to working with theContinue reading “TUC agrees to organise a demo and conference to oppose anti-union laws”

RMT disabled members say: repeal all anti-union laws!

The Disabled Members conference of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport workers (RMT) has passed a resolution reaffirming opposition to all anti-union and anti-strike laws, and resolving to work with Free Our Unions to campaign against them. See the report on the RMT London Transport Region website here. The resolution says: “We deploreContinue reading “RMT disabled members say: repeal all anti-union laws!”

Striking for Black Lives: Trade Unions and Political Strikes

This is a discussion piece from a supporter of our campaign. To contribute a response, or an article of your own, please email freeourunions@gmail.com. At the end of August, players in the US’s National Basketball Association effectively went on unofficial strike in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, sparked by the Milwaukee Bucks teamContinue reading “Striking for Black Lives: Trade Unions and Political Strikes”

Labour MPs, union leaders, and grassroots activists say: free our unions!

Our new campaign statement was launched on LabourList today, bringing together Labour MPs, union officials, and rank-and-file activists to demand trade union freedom and the right to strike. Explaining the motivation for organising the statement, Free Our Unions co-organiser Daniel Randall said: “The pandemic has reinforced how much of a barrier Britain’s anti-union and anti-strikeContinue reading “Labour MPs, union leaders, and grassroots activists say: free our unions!”

Solidarity with Glasgow bin workers!

Free Our Unions sends our solidarity to refuse workers in Glasgow, who struck on 8 September in defiance of draconian balloting restrictions. The action was sparked by an attempt by council bosses to unilaterally increase workers’ hours. Like many workers across the country, Glasgow bin workers have been working reduced hours during the pandemic toContinue reading “Solidarity with Glasgow bin workers!”