Unite reaffirms opposition to all anti-union laws

Unite’s policy conference passed a comprehensive composite on the anti-union laws, committing the union to organising a demonstration and conference against the laws, and breaking the laws where necessary.

We reproduce the motion in full below. Unite has previously taken a similarly strong stance against anti-union laws; earlier this year, Free Our Unions supporters in Unite produced an open letter calling on the union to act on its existing policies. We hope that the passing of the new composite will lead to renewed campaigning by Unite on this issue.

The policy conference also passed a composite on climate change which included statements against the anti-union laws.

This union believes that the election of Boris Johnson’s Conservative government represents a renewed threat to the pay, jobs and working conditions of workers, as well as our trade union rights.

The Conservative manifesto contained a commitment to introduce new anti‐union legislation, targeted specifically at the rail and transport unions which we believe will be extended to other sectors. The Tory government has therefore made no secret of its intention to act decisively against workers in the interests of big business.

Conference notes the Conservatives put an election pledge to create new laws to force workers to provide a minimum service during transport strikes into the Queen’s Speech on 19th December 2019. This flagged their intention to bring such a Bill in this Parliament.

Within hours of the General Election result we witnessed judicial and political mechanisms being used to suppress industrial action. The High Court ruled against strike action across the Royal Mail, despite the Communication Workers Union’s overwhelming result of a 97% vote in favour of action on a 76% turnout. This served as an early expression of an increasingly worker-hostile environment. The judgement received implicit support from the new government and will further embolden employers wishing to impose job cuts and detrimental changes to our working conditions.

Events in France have shown that trade union can mobilise masses of workers and achieve victory over injustice. In early 2020, the Macron government, elected with a huge majority, was forced to give significant concessions to the movement due to militant, co‐ordinated strike action.

Conference believes:

(1) that the UK has the toughest anti‐trade union laws in Europe, the Tories already made balloting for strike action considerable harder with the 2016 legislation; unchallenged and given the opportunity they will keep making it harder and harder for workers to take effective collective action;
(2) if the Bill goes through Parliament to impede the effectiveness of transport strikes the government may try to do similar things in other industries;
(3) it is only by coming together as a union movement that these attacks can be stopped, we need unity and solidarity of the entire movement;

This union resolves:

– to break bad laws through organised action if necessary after all, our trade union rights were won through decades of struggle and civil disobedience
– to call on the TUC to call a national campaign against this legislation which should include a national Day of Action and to prepare the union movement for attacks by the Conservative government by means of a special conference open to all union members or democratically elected delegates
– to call on the TUC to organise a Saturday London demonstration demanding repeal of all anti-union laws, defend the transport unions and the CWU; should the TUC fail to act to organise the campaign ourselves in a coalition of the willing
– to ensure that no union fights alone; if any union is targeted by anti-union laws, Unite will lead others in rallying to their aid.

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