Anti-union laws

Australia plans anti-union laws

By Janet Burstall

John Howard has been the Liberal Prime Minister of Australia since 1996. Last November he won not only his third term as Prime Minister, but also, for the first time, a majority in both houses of the Parliament. From that position of strength his government is preparing to introduce a string of anti-union legislation.

The Government’s plans include:

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Lobby to repeal anti-union laws

The United Campaign for the Repeal of the Anti-Union laws held a lobby of the House of Commons on 28 February. Representatives from TGWU, RMT and CWU called on Labour to include improvements in trade union rights in the Labour manifesto. They also pledged to keep fighting on the issue of repeal of the anti-union laws after the election.

Barry Camfield from the TGWU called for pan-union support to put this issue higher up the political agenda, including using political fund money for this task.

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Midland Mainline: the courts against the workers

The High Court has banned industrial action by guards on Midland Mainline, in a case which shows the blatant class bias of Britain's anti-union laws.

Unsafe

Midland Mainline operates multiple-unit trains, which have no connecting door. This effectively divides the train into two halves. Guards and their union, RMT, believe that there should therefore be a guard in each part of the train.

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Midland Mainline strike banned

By Janine Booth, Finsbury Park branch RMT chairperson (personal capacity)

The High Court has banned industrial action by train guards on Midland Mainline, in a case which shows the blatant class bias of Britain’s anti-union laws.

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EWS: Groundstaff Fight Jobs Threat

EWS is on a crusade to introduce a new driver restructuring initiative. Most traincrew will be familiar with these - drivers' pay goes up, but with it comes extra duties, more anti-social hours, worse conditions, and wholesale attacks on other grades.

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Anti-union laws used at London Met

A planned strike at London Metropolitan University was stopped late in September after a High Court injunction was placed on the lecturers’ union NATFHE.

The union is fighting the imposition of new contracts. Later this month members will discuss whether to hold a new ballot on industrial action.

The university management got the injunction they wanted by using the detail of the anti-union laws — they argued that the union had not fulfilled a number of technical requirements, such as specifying which site members worked at.

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Laws Against Trade Unions

How the British state legislated against free trade unions in the last two decades

For the last 23 years, successive governments have consistently introduced legislation to curtail the action of free trade unionism in the UK. Theirs was a long-term strategy in response to the growth in militant trade unionism from the 1970s. The laws introduced in the 1980s curtailed existing immunities and made solidarity action illegal.

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T&G: Winds of change

By Sue Denham

The Branch Delegate Conference of the T&G was on the surface a boring affair. No dramatic conference arguments; composites were passed in almost every case with GEC endorsement. Excellent positions on asylum seekers and the organisation of migrant workers, no hint of a right-wing agenda.

Affiliation to the United Campaign for the Repeal of the Anti-Trade Union Laws (UCRATUL) went through with GEC recommendation and was passed as part of a comprehensive composite on anti-trades union legislation.

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Law blocks BT strike

By a BT engineer

The strike by engineers in BT's Customer Service division (approximately 15,000 external and control staff) due to start on Monday 14 April was called off after the employers won an injunction under the anti-union laws.

At the time of writing it is unclear exactly how the employers managed to obtain the injunction. Claims from the employers' side that they were not properly notified by the union of who was to strike have caused amusement among the workers involved as everyone has received e-mails warning them not to strike!

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White paper on union law: All the rights for the bosses

This is a defining moment for the New Labour administration and their relations with the trade union movement. The government has published a long-awaited White Paper — misleadingly entitled Fairness at Work —which details its employment law proposals At the same time the Low Pay Commission has made its contribution to low pay by recommending the minimum wage be set at just £3.60 an hour or £144 a week.

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Waterfront showdown

Melbourne’s Webb Dock has become the site where labour’s right to organise in the 1990s is being fought out. After nearly two years of preparation, Australia’s right-wing Coalition government has found employer allies prepared to take on one of the country’s best-organised and most militant unions, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).

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Lessons from the Liverpool dockers' dispute

"The dockers did not climb down, they were let down, and forced to end their remarkable two-year struggle... because the Transport afnd General Workers' Union virtually guaranteed its failure. Had this rich and powerful organisation launched a national campaign... the battle could have been won there and then". This comment, in a letter to the Guardian by the left-wing journalist John Pilger, led TGWU general secretary Bill Morris to claim that Pilger had a "vendetta" against the union. "John Pilger and others like him, with their message of false hope... who did more than anyone to prolong the agony... The union has... spent over £1 million on relieving the hardship amongst the sacked dockers' families... That the dockers' solidarity and resilience did not succeed in securing their just demand for reinstatement is down to the most repressive anti-union laws in the western world, not the T&G... The view that victory could have been achieved if only the T&G had been prepared to ignore the law and put the entire union at risk is a fantasy".

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Fight for union rights

The welcome show of spirit by Labour MPs against the government's mean proposal to cut one-parent benefits has put down a marker. Let's see the union leaders do at least as much - on the one-parent benefits issue, and also on the most basic, bottom-line question for all trade unionists, the right for unions to organise, to negotiate, and to take effective action.

Trade Unions: 

Fight for union rights

The welcome show of spirit by Labour MPs against the government's mean proposal to cut one-parent benefits has put down a marker. Let's see the union leaders do at least as much - on the one-parent benefits issue, and also on the most basic, bottom-line question for all trade unionists, the right for unions to organise, to negotiate, and to take effective action.

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Oil workers' leader speaks out: "We are into a long campaign"

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Ronnie MacDonald

Ronnie MacDonald, Chair of the rank and file based Offshore Industry Liaison Committee, describes the way the Tory anti-union laws make it very difficult to organise a successful ballot in the North Sea, and sets out what he sees as the way forward in the battle for union recognition.

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It's a simple fact that the officials of the union are not balloting those workers who have been sacked.

Ronnie MacDonald, Chair of the rank and file based Offshore Industry Liaison Committee, describes the way the Tory anti-union laws make it very difficult to organise a successful ballot in the North Sea, and sets out what he sees as the way forward in the battle for union recognition.

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