Seventeen trade unionists attended the first meeting of the Right to Strike campaign in the north west last Thursday, from Unite, Unison, PCS, RMT, UCU, and NUT. Some represented branches which have already voted to back the campaign.
There was a wide-ranging discussion about the bill and its implications. Some of the most worrying aspects of the proposed law are those that have not made the headlines as much, for example the ease with which peaceful picketing will be criminalised, and the legalisation of the use of agency staff as strikebreakers (whether this happens in the Trade Union Bill or secondary legislation).
Comrades agreed on the need for a bottom-up campaign to stop the bill, given the initial response from most union leaderships. Reps will need to undertake educational work in branches to explain what this bill means for the day-to-day work of trade unionists. As well as targeting Tory MPs, most of whom failed to pass their own proposed 40% ballot threshold in the recent general election, we need to put Labour MPs on the spot to clarify that they will vote against this bill.
Another meeting date was provisonally agreed as 26th August (watch this space for details). We will throw the net wider for this meeting and invite more branches and organisations like IER, CTUF and others to attend. We will be aiming to mobilise as many people as possible to the Tory Party conference demonstration in Manchester on 4th October, where there will be a Right to Strike bloc. In the meantime, comrades will be raising the idea of campaigning against the bill in their respective unions and trades councils, and we will be responsive to any initiatives which come from elsewhere in the movement.
Has your branch backed the campaign? Could you organise a meeting in your region? Let us know at ourrighttostrike [at] gmail.com