PCS: Free Our Unions!

Originally published 27th April 2019

The following motion was submitted to the annual conference of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) – 21-23 May, Brighton. It wasn’t heard, but was later passed by the union’s National Executive Committee.


Submitted by Government Legal Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government/Headquarters National

This Conference notes that:

1. At a time when the term, ‘taking back control’ has been as fashionable as it is vacuous, trade unions represents one of the few available forms of people empowerment.
2. British trade unionism is perhaps the most legally fettered trade union movement in the EU and has been systematically undermined by legislation dating back to the 1980s and including the 2016 Trade Union Act, that those restrictions are not only anti-democratic but weaken workers’ ability to fight for more rights, better terms and conditions of employment, and a greater share of the wealth of this grotesquely unequal society.
3. The 2018 national pay ballot conducted by PCS was subverted by legal requirements for strike action far in excess of those required by the Conservative Party to form a Government and impose austerity on the nation.

This Conference therefore instructs PCS to campaign for the complete and speedy repeal of all anti-union laws, for strong legal rights including to enable:

a) Unions to recruit workers, including in non-unionised workplaces and companies, and for workers to join and be represented by a union.
b) To take industrial action, including solidarity action with other workers and for broader social and political goals, and to picket freely.
c) A complete ban on dismissal for industrial action, however long it lasts.
d) A single ‘worker’ status with equal employment and contractual rights from day one for all workers to replace the current categorisation that makes ‘workers’ eligible for fewer rights than ‘employees’.
e) Strong rights for unions to access workplaces, obtain recognition, and establish collective bargaining, including sector-wide bargaining.
f) Unions’ right to decide their own policies and activities, determine their own structures and rules, and spend their funds as they choose, free from state and employer interference.
g) Outlawing zero-hours contracts.
h) Corporate compensation commensurate with the losses incurred by victims of corporate misdeeds and criminal sanctions for the worst offences and offenders, including personal liability for owners and directors, such as blacklisting and corporate manslaughter.

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