45,000 sign Enough is Enough pledge to defend the right to strike
Over 45,000 people have signed a pledge saying they will fight to defend the right to strike. The pledge, coordinated by the Enough is Enough campaign comes as the Westminster government has threatened to introduce new anti-union laws.
In October, the government published draft legislation which would seek to maintain minimum service levels on the railways during strike action. If implemented, the legislation would force rail unions to facilitate their own members crossing picket lines and breaking strikes. ASLEF assistant general secretary Simon Weller has said these proposals would remove a “fundamental part of the right to strike” and make picketing effectively illegal. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has suggested the proposals might breach the European Human Rights Act and that the proposals “will be defeated by the trade union movement and in the courts”.
Reports have also suggested that the government wants to introduce a ban on workers in the NHS and the fire service from taking strike action. While it is now being reported that the government has backed down on this extreme measure, it is still planning to introduce new anti-union laws in January – which could include minimum service levels across the public sector.
The Enough is Enough pledge is a direct response to these attempts to restrict the right to strike further. The pledge reads, “The right to strike is under threat. New legislation proposed by the Tory government intends to override a workers’ right to withdraw their labour, forcing them to work against their will.
“The right to strike is a fundamental democratic right. It underpins our ability to win dignity in the workplace and earn a decent standard of living. It is no accident that this right is under attack at the very moment the public is fighting back against the cost-of-living squeeze.
“This government is determined to force workers to pay the price for a crisis caused by the greed of the elite yet again. We won’t accept it.
“We, the undersigned, pledge to defend the right to strike and oppose this latest legislation”.
Under the UK’s current anti-union laws, ballots for industrial action are subject to arbitrary turnout thresholds, where at least 50 per cent of union members must vote in a ballot in order for action to take place. This threshold is made more challenging to meet by requiring ballots on industrial action to be carried out by post.
Current anti-union laws also put restrictions on the number of people who can be on a picket line and limit the scenarios in which a trade union can take industrial action.
Enough is Enough was launched by a coalition of organisations and MPs in the summer and has a set of five demands – delivering a real pay rise for workers, slashing energy bills, ending food poverty, ensuring decent homes for all, and taxing the rich. Among those to back the launch of the campaign were the CWU union, Tribune magazine, and the community union ACORN. Since, it has received the backing of a number of other organisations – including the UCU and the Green Party of England and Wales.
The campaign held its first day of action in October with protests in 13 cities.
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Image credit: Steve Eason – Creative Commons