The European Court of Human Rights has given initial approval to a submission from railworkers’ union RMT which contends that Britain’s anti-union laws are unfairly restrictive.
The submission claims that the restrictions placed on the right to strike in Britain contravene Article 11 of the European Declaration of Human Rights. The British government must now respond to the submission and, if the ECHR is not satisfied by its justifications for the UK’s anti-union laws, a full hearing will be held next year.
Senior Tory figures like London Mayor Boris Johnson are clearly unsettled by the ruling. Johnson has said the government must watch the situation “like a hawk”.
This positive outcome also has an ironic aspect, given that the RMT leadership is virulent in its anti-Europeanism. Although the ECHR is not an EU body, it too represents a supra-national, pan-European structure. Now this structure has proved itself ostensibly more progressive than the British state, perhaps the RMT leaders' left-Little Englandism will begin to crack.