Anti-strike bill: Enough is Enough petition passes 150k signatures
Efforts to stop government plans to further restrict the right strike have stepped up a gear. Enough is Enough’s petition calling for the proposals to be dropped has surpassed 150,000 signatures.
The petition, which says that “the right to strike is a fundamental democratic right” sees signatories committing to defend the right to strike and oppose new legislation which would make industrial action more difficult.
The petition has passed the milestone of 150,000 signatures as the government will today introduce its proposed anti-strike bill in parliament. The bill will seek to enforce minimum service levels in certain public services – such as in healthcare, in schools and on the railways – while strikes are taking place.
Trade unions have slammed the proposed legislation and have vowed to fight it. The new Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Paul Novak has said, “”This is an attack on the right to strike. It’s an attack on working people. And it’s an attack on one of our longstanding British liberties. It means that when workers democratically vote to strike, they can be forced to work and sacked if they don’t. That’s wrong, unworkable, and almost certainly illegal.”
The proposed legislation has also been bitterly opposed by rail unions. ASLEF assistant general secretary Simon Weller has said the 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”.
The UK already has some of the most restrictive anti-union laws in Europe. Legislation currently requires trade unions to meet arbitrary turnout thresholds on ballots for strike action, restricts the number of people who can be on a picket line and requires ballots for industrial action to be carried out by post, rather than online or in the workplace. All of these are designed to undermine the efficacy of strike action and the leverage that trade unions have in disputes.
Separate to Enough is Enough’s campaign, a TUC petition opposing the legislation has over 70,000 signatures. A letter writing campaign coordinated by Strike Map and supported by the People’s Assembly, the Morning Star, the Fire Brigades Union and others has seen over 50,000 people write to the prime minister Rishi Sunak demanding the legislation is dropped.
Enough is Enough was launched by a coalition of organisations and MPs in 2022 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.
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Image credit: Steve Eason – Creative Commons