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 Weekly survey: Cost of living, elections and devolution

    Weekly survey: Cost of living, elections and devolution

    Average wages are set to rise faster than prices – so is there still a cost of living crisis? Ed Balls says there is, the Tories are arguing that there isn’t. What do you think? And with the European and local elections coming up next month – how much campaigning is going on in your area? And when were you last out on the doorstep? Also in our survey – Ed Miliband has pledged to devolve at least £20 billion to be […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour have a mini reshuffle

    Labour have a mini reshuffle

    Labour have had a very mini pre-Easter reshuffle, with two new role announced. Thomas Docherty, formerly Angela Eagle’s PPS, has become Shadow Deputy Leader of the House, while Angela Smith moves from that position to become a Shadow Environment minister. Congratulations to both on their new roles.

    Read more →
  • News Tory housing shambles: Over budget and behind schedule

    Tory housing shambles: Over budget and behind schedule

    It’s no secret that Britain faces a housing crisis – and new figures show David Cameron’s big plan to “Get Britain Building” is turning out to be an abject failure. The Get Britain Building fund was launched in November 2011 by then-Housing Minister Grant Shapps, who announced £400 million to build 16,000 homes over the next three years. Cameron then relaunched the project in March 2012, with the cost soaring to £570 million and the deadline extended to March 2015. […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Walk on, with hope in your heart

    Walk on, with hope in your heart

    Today our thoughts are first and foremost with the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. Today will be difficult for them. It marks 25 years since 96 innocent men, women and children were killed at the Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield. It marks 25 years since the orchestrated campaign to denigrate the memory of the deceased began. And it marks 25 years of totally preventable pain, anguish and heartache for the families of the victims and the survivors of that fateful crush. […]

    Read more →
  • News Clegg accused of using public money to fund party strategist

    Clegg accused of using public money to fund party strategist

    Nigel Farage has come under fire today over his use of public money, accused of claiming expenses for an office on which he pays no rent – but he’s not the only political figure accused of using taxpayers’ money to fund his party today. Nick Clegg could be summoned in front of a Commons select committee to explain the role of Ryan Coetzee, his most senior special adviser. Mr Coetzee’s official job title is Head of Strategy and he is […]

    Read more →