The Tory's new anti-strike laws would require a 50% turnout threshold in a ballot and an additional 40% yes vote requirement in “core public services” (health, education, transport and fire services). Essentially outlawing all national strikes.
The laws also go after funding of political parties by trade unions, making it a requirement for union members to “opt-in” to a union's political fund rather than “opting-out”. The ability of the labour movement to fund its political party, to have a voice in politics, is crucial. The businesses and wealthy individuals who fund the Tory part have no such restrictions!
Whilst we must fight against the new attacks, it is not enough simply to defend the status quo. We don't have a “right to strike”, even without new laws the UK currently has one of the most restrictive trade union laws in the western world. Postal ballots instead of workplace ballots, no right to strike over “political issues”, and notice periods all hold back unions and allow bosses ways to challenge a ballot in court. We must campaign for postitive demands — for a right to strike.
The official leadership of the labour movement looks set to timidly roll over in the face of these attacks. We must change that. If the union leaders, the TUC and the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom will not organise a national demonstration for the right to strike union branches must take them to task — and organise the demonstration themselves.
Activists in Workers' Liberty are looking to work with other trade unionists to pressure the union leaders into taking action, and to take action if they don't. Get in touch: OurRightToStrike@gmail.com.
Model motion for union branches:
RIGHT TO STRIKE: CAMPAIGNING TOP STOP THE ATTACK ON OUR UNIONS
This branch notes
1. The plans announced in the Queen's Speech to limit even further our already very limited right to strike.
2. The plans to force unions that affiliate to political parties to operate a system of members “opting in” to pay a political levy, rather than “opting out”, further limiting the labour movement's ability to maintain a political voice.
3. That Lambeth Unison is initiating a campaign committee to fight on these issues.
This branch believes
1. That it is entirely possible these attacks can be stopped or pushed back, particularly given the government’s small majority and its obvious hypocrisy when it was elected by less than 25 percent of the electorate – but only if there is an urgent and determined public campaign. Letting this go without a fight would be disastrous.
2. That all the indications are that the initiative for such a campaign will have to come from the rank and file and local branches, in order to push the whole movement into action.
3. That there is a crucial wider struggle to repeal the existing anti-union laws, but the best way to pursue that is to defend ourselves, win this fight and then pass over to the offensive.
This branch resolves
1. To support Lambeth Unison's initiative; delegate members to be responsible; publicise as widely as possible to get support from other branches and organisation of the unions; and work with Lambeth to host a campaign meeting soon.
2. To make an important focus of the campaign a push for the unions, the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom, etc, to organise a national demonstration in London, marching to Parliament, early in the autumn.
3. To organise local campaigning, including a leaflet, stalls, a public meeting with the trades council and others, information and a petition to circulate among members, and calling for the council and local Labour MPs to publicly condemn the Tories’ plans and advocate Labour repeals them when it comes to office.
4. That this campaign should include discussions about the importance of and openings for unions being willing to defy the law.
5. To continue to call for the repeal of all the anti-union laws and the introduction of positive legal rights, including rights to strike, picket and take solidarity and political industrial action.