Anti-union laws

Blair's plans for union law revealed

By a BT engineer

Apart from general statements assuring the bosses that there will be “no return to the ’70s”, the Labour Frontbench has not been keen to spell out what, if anything, they will do to remove the legal shackles imposed on the unions by the Tories.

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From "rip up" to "amend"

"Rudd softens IR message to woo business", headlined the Australian Financial Review on 2 February.
Kim Beazley had promised to "rip up" Howard's new anti-worker laws. Beazley was vague about exactly what he would replace those laws with, and how much of the content of the laws would remain in force, but he used the words "rip up".
Ah, declared Rudd to Southern Cross radio on 1 February: "That may have been Kim's sort of form of making a point".

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Brisbane Workers' Liberty meeting: Workers fighting anti-worker laws

A meeting to learn about some past experiences which can help us better understand how to fight Work Choices and the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act today

Saturday 17 February, 3pm

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ALP back-pedals on workers' rights

Since Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard took the leadership of the Australian Labor Party on 4 December 2006, the ALP's website has been changed to remove any upfront commitment to repeal John Howard's anti-worker laws.

Under Labor's previous leader, Kim Beazley, the ALP's commitments were vague, but at least the ALP website featured, on its front page, a picture of Beazley tearing up the Howard legislation, and it was easy to find on it speeches by ALP leaders promising the repeal the legislation, even if they were evasive about the ALP's alternatives.

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John McDonnell says: Scrap the anti-union laws!

John McDonnell MP spoke to Solidarity about the campaign for a Trade Union Freedom Bill

Some of us have been working for trade union reform for five years. We have lobbied for change from Labour, but it has been like crying in the wilderness. The official TUC response has been to point to the legislation the Labour government has introduced, to the rights that have been won. Yet these changes and concessions have been fairly minimal. Tony Blair’s says the UK has the most restrictive trade union laws in western Europe. He is right, and that situation has been maintained.

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UK trade unionists rally to support Australian workers

From Amicus:

Hundreds of UK trade unionists are to protest outside the Australian Embassy this week (Thursday 30th November) at anti-worker and anti-trade union labour laws introduced by the Australian government.

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1930s America: workers sit down for union rights

Mass industrial unions were created in the USA during the mid-1930s as a result of a series of bitter and extremely violent battles between workers on one side and capitalists and their police. National guards and hired thugs were used and spies employed by detective agencies were sent to infiltrate the labour movement. Labour legislation, most of it during FD Roosevelt’s “New Deal” Federal government encouraged the organising drive of the unions. In 1934 the US adhered to the International Labour Organisation that had been set up under the League of Nations in 1919.

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TUC Blog: Trade Union Freedom Bill

By guest blogger Maria Exall

The Monday evening fringe meeting organised by the United Campaign for the Repeal of the Anti-Union Laws and the Institute of Employment Rights on the Trade Union Freedom Bill was packed. Over 200 delegates and visitors met to hear the latest reportback on the Trade Union Freedom Bill campaign.

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Australia: resisting anti-union laws

Graph: figures for striker-days in Australia, to June 2006.
On Tuesday 29 August, thousands of Australian trade unionists held rallies in major cities in solidarity with 107 construction workers on the Perth-to-Mandurah rail project, in Western Australia.
The 107 are the first workers to face prosecution under the new anti-union laws put on the books last year by the right-wing Howard government. They face fines of up to $28,000 (£11,000) each.

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Trade Union Freedom Bill

Whenever we start to stand up for ourselves, we come up against the anti-union laws. It’s not just the outrageous court rulings - such the injunctions awarded to EWS or Midland Mainline in the last couple of years - it is also the everyday shackles that these laws keep around us.

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Free Our Unions

The Trades Union Congress is campaigning for trade union freedom from the shackles of anti union laws. It is backing a Early Day Motion in Parliament, the Trade Union Freedom Bill. (EDMs do not get time to be debated in Parliament, but serve to "flag up" issues). The TUC has made the campaign the theme of the London May Day demonstration.

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Taff Vale

The Trade Union Freedom Bill is being proposed to coincide with the repeal of the “Taff Vale Judgement”. What was “Taff Vale”?

Bit by bit, over the 19th century, British workers rolled back the Combination Acts, passed in 1799-1800, which had made trade unionism illegal in the early years of the Industrial Revolution.

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Free our unions!

The Trades Union Congress is campaigning for trade union freedom from the shackles of anti union laws. It is backing a Early Day Motion in Parliament, the Trade Union Freedom Bill. (EDMs do not get time to be debated in Parliament, but serve to “flag up” issues). The TUC has made the campaign the theme of the London May Day demonstration.

These moves must be warmly welcomed by all those who want to see the abolition of the many anti-union laws that make effective industrial action difficult or impossible within the law.

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French workers won because solidarity strikes are legal there

For two months growing mobilisation of French students and workers confronted the French government.

For two months, France’s right-wing government said it wouldn’t budge. It passed the CPE — a measure allowing bosses to sack young workers without having to prove any good cause — into law.

Then, on 10 April, the government backed down. It withdrew the CPE. Solidarity won.

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Lessons from France

The French CPE-CNE law will extend the casualisation of labour in order to subvert all workers' rights to the needs of “flexibility” demanded by French bosses.

This is not an issue just for young French workers. The Irish Ferries and Gate Gourmet disputes last year both demonstrated that across the world jobs are more and more insecure and workers' rights increasingly ignored.

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Women's TUC - Freedom Bill

A fringe meeting on the Trade Union Freedom Bill was held at Women’s TUC.

The concept of a such a Bill has won the support of over 100 Labour MPs since the Trade Union Congress 2005 called for a campaign to free our unions. Its aim is to begin to roll back the long standing restrictions on collective action by trade unions that were brought in under the Tories and continued by this Blair-led Labour Government. If adopted the Bill would give us stronger rights in the workplace and give working women and men a platform to resist the ruthless employers of the 21st century.

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Trade Union Rights are Women's Rights!

On the first evening of TUC Women's Conference, I spoke at a fringe meeting called to promote the Trade Union Freedom Bill. Here's what I said ...

Three examples from workplace struggles of my own union, RMT, which illustrate that the anti-union laws are unfair, and also rather wacky.

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What we do: the anti-union laws

When they finally started to push back the militant trade unionism of the 1970s, the Tory governments of the 80s tried to screw down the lid by bringing in laws that fundamentally undermined trade unions' right to organise and take action.

Meanwhile, a wave of privatisations and bankruptcies swept the British industrial landscape. Whole sectors of the economy (coal-mines, machine-tools, docks, newspaper printing, textiles, railways) were shattered and whole communities destroyed.

<p>When they finally started to push back the militant trade unionism of the 1970s, the Tory governments of the 80s tried to screw down the lid by bringing in laws that fundamentally undermined trade unions' right to organise and take action.

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Challenging Australia's anti-union laws

By Colin Foster

"Employees engaged on the Portside Wharf Development construction
site at Hamilton [Brisbane] attended a stop work meeting. The meeting
commenced at about 6.30am and concluded at about 7.00am...

"This meeting took place during working hours and may amount to
Unlawful Industrial Action contrary to the provisions of the Building
And Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005... Individual
workers... fines up to $22,000. Corporations [employers and
unions]... fines up to $110,000.

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Australia: half a million against anti-union laws

AUSTRALIA’S unions estimate that over half a million people joined rallies across the country on 15 November to protest at the Howard government’s anti-union laws. There were 210,000 in Melbourne, 45,000 people in Sydney, and 25,000 in Brisbane. Right from the start, however, the leaders of the Australian Council of Trade Unions have signalled that they do not think it possible to stop the legislation, only to build up popular dislike for it.

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Union Rights Make It To Labour Conference Floor

By Maria Exall

At this year’s Labour Party Conference (25-29 September) the issue of trade union rights will be centre stage for the first time since 1997. And appropriately so. The situation with the Gate Gourmet workers has written large what is wrong with the Blairite commitment to the “flexible labour market”.

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"Solidarity strikes must be made legal"

“Solidarity strikes must be made legal,” wrote Tony Woodley in the Guardian on 15 August. His comment came after workers at British Airways had staged a walkout in support of Gate Gourmet catering workers, summarily sacked by bosses who wanted to replace them with cheaper more flexible workers. Woodley was absolutely right.

The solidarity action of BA workers called for courage and sacrifice. The walkouts were doubly illegal: they were not the subject of a ballot and they were “secondary”.

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Australia: Fighting anti-union laws

This year, John Howard plans to bring in anti-union legislation more drastic than former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ever attempted in one instalment, and arguably more drastic than the sum total of the whole long series of laws introduced by Thatcher’s government through the 1980s.

By Bob Carnegie and Martin Thomas

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Union rights: make Australian Labor fight!

Draft article for Workers' Liberty (Australia) no.38, by Bob Carnegie and Martin Thomas

This year, John Howard plans to bring in anti-union legislation more drastic than former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ever attempted in one instalment, and arguably more drastic than the sum total of the whole long series of laws introduced by Thatcher's government through the 1980s.

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Australian workers mobilise against anti-union laws

Reports are still coming in, but today (30 June) there has been a massive show of union strength against the Howard Government's attacks.

Up to 120,000 in Melbourne; around 10-15,000 in Geelong; 5,000 in Adelaide; 15-20,000 in Perth; 3,000 in Hobart.

Up to 20,000 packed King George Square in Brisbane, with large contingents of 2000 or more each from the Electrical Trades Union, the AMWU, the BLF/CFMEU, and Transport Workers all marching to the square.

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