The bleating from the bourgeois press about disruption on 10 July strike day has given Cameron an excuse to restate the Tories’ intention to almost ban strikes in the public sector through changes to balloting laws.
It does not take much for UK employers and their political representatives in the Tory Party to demand further curbs on employees freedom to organise and take action in their own interests at work. It would be easy to forget that we already have the most anti-worker union laws in the richer capitalist countries. Laws put in during the Thatcher union-bashing years of the 1980s and scandalously kept in place during the 13 years of a Labour Government.
At present the law is all on the employers side. CWU, RMT, Unite (and other unions) have all had overwhelming votes for strike action struck out by the courts.
Employers are able to get injunctions to stop action for increasing spurious reasons — including a handful of members not getting ballot papers, information on locations (based on management lists) being out of date, or even the union not giving notice of where the non-members are located!
Agency and casual workers have no legal right to take effective action. This fact can be used to undermine existing strikes.
There is no “natural justice” in this area. Our rights and freedoms at work are totally subsumed to the employers’ right to run a business. Forget any concept of liberty if you are a trade unionist in the UK
Yes, let’s have reforms of balloting laws and other rights at work — but ones like this...
1. When the majority of union members vote for industrial action this democratic decision cannot be undermined by the employer, using court injunctions, if error in the administration of the balloting process would have not affected the result.
2. When people work for the same company (whatever their status, permanent, agency, casual) they all have the right to take action on matters which they have an interest in
3. Fairer trade union recognition legislation so that when a majority of employees want collective bargaining through a union this is granted
4. Workers should be granted employment rights from day one of employment — not the two years introduced by Cameron
5. Removal of the hefty fees for Employment Tribunals brought in by the Tories and a strengthening of the equalities legislation watered down by the Coalition Government
6. The legal right for reinstatement for employees who win Employment Tribunals against dismissal
These demands and many others form the basis of Keith Ewing and John Hendy’s Manifesto for collective bargaining.
It argues for an extension of current union collective bargaining arrangements and an increase in the collective power of employees at the workplace.