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 Labour go on UKIP offensive

    Labour go on UKIP offensive

    Labour have gone on the attack against UKIP, following the launch of their European election campaign over the weekend. Releasing a statement from Jon Ashworth, the Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, the response focusses on how right-wing UKIP are - suggesting this change of tack is to designed to put Labour supporters off switching their vote to Farage’s party. Ashworth said: “UKIP would have us believe they stand for working people but the truth is very different – they’re even more right […]

    Read more →
  • News Seats and Selections Tories yet to select candidates in nearly half of marginals

    Tories yet to select candidates in nearly half of marginals

    Out of the 75 most marginal Labour and Lib Dem held seats, the Conservatives have selected only 41 candidates for the next election, according to the Independent. Labour, on the other hand, have selected candidates in all but two of their top 50 target seats: With only a year to go until the general election, this shortage seems to suggest the Tories are not expecting to gain many seats. By this stage in a parliament, a party hoping to make […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Brown teams up with Darling for Scottish independence intervention

    Brown teams up with Darling for Scottish independence intervention

    Gordon Brown will today enter the debate on Scottish independence with a speech making the case for a No vote in the referendum. The intervention sees Brown link back up with his former Chancellor Alistair Darling, who is Chair of the Better Together campaign. Darling said: “I am very pleased that Gordon Brown is to deliver this speech on Tuesday.  His 30 years of experience inform his powerful argument that Scotland can benefit from both seizing the opportunities that come […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Axelrod understands the importance of grassroots campaigning

    Axelrod understands the importance of grassroots campaigning

    Reading some of the coverage of David Axelrod’s appointment to advise Labour’s General Election campaign you would get the impression that grassroots campaigning was invented in the USA by the Obama campaign and had never been tried before in a British election. Sadly this is rather typical of the way the British media reports election campaigns. Journalists understand the bit of the campaign – the “air war” – which is about their world of messaging and interviews and image. They […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Axelrod – that’s what I call a reality check

    Axelrod – that’s what I call a reality check

    “It will be me.” That was Hillary Clinton, at the end of November 2007, expressing her confidence to CBS’s Katie Couric that the Democratic Party’s nomination for President was as good as hers. Hillary was the “inevitable” candidate for 2008. The race was going to be over very soon. Nobody stood a chance against her. And almost everyone agreed. The fact that history turned out differently tells you at least two different things. First, that the Obama campaign (for the […]

    Read more →