What is the right to strike?

June 6, 2011 7:54 pm

Unite oil refinery strikeBy Byron Taylor / @byrontaylor74

This morning, Vince Cable carried a stark warning to the trade union movement – industrial action will legitimise further restrictions on strike laws. Whilst this must be opposed, it is important to understand that there is no right to strike in UK law.

The right to strike asserts that employees have the right to take action against an unreasonable employer, and that their employment contract should be suspended for the period of that action (i.e. they cannot be sacked for going on strike.)

Here in the UK, we do not have the right to strike. The law only recognises the existence of ‘trade disputes’, which severely limits the grounds for action (and virtually excludes agency workers or outsourced employees). Where employees do take action they are deemed to have broken their contract of employment – a sackable offence.

This is not a hypothetical argument – just ask the workers at Friction Dynamix, who were sacked en masse for the temerity of taking action.

The right to strike is a fundamental human right. It gives workers dignity in employment; the right to protest without fearing for your job, your home, your family. It is what separates workers from serfs.

The coalition has indicated that it is willing to restrict existing strike laws. We must make the case that this undermines not just trade unions, but working people everywhere.

Latest

  • News Scotland Labour commit to Home Rule Bill within first 100 days of government

    Labour commit to Home Rule Bill within first 100 days of government

    Margaret Currant, Shadow Scottish Secretary, has today announced that within 100 days of coming into Government, Labour would lay Scotland’s Home Rule Bill in the House of Commons. As well as pledging to do this, Curran has also outlined other devolution priorities. They include: A full review of how Westminster and Scottish Governments can best work together for Scottish people. Bring together Scotland’s council leaders from all parties to decide on a strategy for working together on areas of UK […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Meet Nigel Farage: what UKIP really think about the NHS

    Meet Nigel Farage: what UKIP really think about the NHS

    The fact that UKIP is more Tory than the Tories has been often stated. Nowhere is it more clear that this statement is accurate than on health policy. The General Election will in part be a fight save the NHS. Not just from the Tories, but from UKIP as well. David Cameron’s Tories may have pushed our health service to the brink, but Nigel Farage has never even bothered to hide the fact that he is a cheerleader for increased privatisation, including through charging patients for basic care. Nigel Farage has today defended his Party Secretary who advocates privatisation of […]

    Read more →
  • News Ukip General Secretary compares the NHS to Hitler’s bunker

    Ukip General Secretary compares the NHS to Hitler’s bunker

    Ukip’s General Secretary, Matthew Richardson has called the NHS “the biggest waste of money in the UK”, the Sunday Mirror has uncovered. Richardson was speaking to right-wing activists in Washington DC, and went on to compare the NHS to Nazi Germany. He said “A number I couldn’t possibly imagine when I was younger is now the amount of money that is owed by my country… of course, at the heart of this, the Reichstag bunker of socialism, is the National […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Scotland “The best deal for Scotland is a People’s ScotRail” – Murphy announces rail plans

    “The best deal for Scotland is a People’s ScotRail” – Murphy announces rail plans

    Jim Murphy has announced his preference for a non-profit organisation, People’s Scotrail, running Scotland’s railways. The Scottish Parliament will gain extra powers – devolved through the Smith Agreement – that include allowing a non-profit organisation to bid to run Scotland’s railways. Murphy has backed this idea. This comes after the SNP awarded the contract to a firm run by the Dutch Government – despite Scottish Labour calling for a halt to the ScotRail franchising process until the Scottish Government had more powers post-Smith Commission. Jim […]

    Read more →
  • News Dear The Sun – we spotted Ed Balls for you…

    Dear The Sun – we spotted Ed Balls for you…

    There’s a story in The Sun(£) today that suggests Ed Balls has been “sidelined” by the party ahead of the election campaign. The Murdoch-owned red-top even went as far as asking people to “spot the Balls”. Now since we never knowingly shirking a challenge, we’ve set out to find out where Ed Balls has been this week. In truth, it wasn’t very hard, because even a quick scan of Twitter, the papers or blogs would suggest the Sun are talking cobblers about the Labour Party (for […]

    Read more →