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.
The AWL wants unions to campaign for the repeal of all anti-union laws. But we just also make our union leaders understand that to win repeal we will have to confront the laws - break them where and when we're strong enough, and keep breaking them until they're unenforceable.
We also campaign for a Workers' Charter of positive trade union rights. Workers' Liberty initiated the first rank and file conference for union rights after the Blair government came into office in 1997. The committee formed from that conference then merged into the United Campaign for the Repeal of the Anti-Union laws, a coalition of activists from all the major unions.