An important step forward at the Labour Party conference

Motions from supporters of the Right To Strike Campaign were influential in an important motion passed at the Labour Party conference on Tuesday. Right To Strike had two motions to the conference (online here) about not only the new Trade Union Bill but repealing the previous anti-trade union legislation from Thatcher’s time. There were also other motions dealing with a positive argument around a right to strike – something we do not currently have.

The final motion, which was agreed unanimously took key parts from our motion on supporting solidarity action (which is currently illegal) and the idea of a positive bill of workers’ rights to protect us from government and management attacks. The final motion called for a Labour government to introduce “a comprehensive package of employment rights compliant with ILO core conventions and European human rights obligations”

However, during the compositing process even the left led unions couldn’t accept the idea of repealing the previous anti union laws – effectively meaning that they want to maintain the status quo.

This isn’t good enough. The anti-union laws in Britain are designed to prevent us fighting back, they undermine the very basis of the trade union movement, workplace democracy and that an injury to one is an injury to all. They also make political strike action illegal, reducing the trade unions to only campaigning around terms and conditions for their members.

The motion that was passed was a step forward and can now be a point of focus for Labour party and trade union activists across the country. But we need to go further, which is why Right To Strike is not just opposed to the current proposed law, we are campaigning against all the anti-trade union laws.

If you want to join and get involved then download our motion and pass it at your union branch.

Text of the motion passed by the Labour Party conference 2015

Employment Rights
Conference unreservedly condemns the Trade Union Bill which had its Second Reading on Monday 14th September and regards it as yet another attack on the employment rights of millions of people in the UK.
Conference acknowledges that the Bill follows a series of measures to erode employment and trade union rights in the last Parliament between 2010 and 2015 such as the Transparency of Lobbying (or Gagging Act) and the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act which has undermined workers’ access to justice. As an ideologically driven attack on trade union rights and freedoms, the Bill does nothing positive for workers but instead tips the scales considerably in favour of unscrupulous employers.

Conference notes that on 6 August it was announced that the legislation will attack public sector unions’ ability to organise by compulsorily ending check-off arrangements. Conference also believes that these measures are harmful to public sector employers, by cutting off an important revenue stream and making it more difficult for them to engage constructively with unions.

It also attacks unions’ right to fund a working-class political voice, including the vital link between unions and our party.

The proposals will:
• allow agency labour to be used to break a strike
• introduce very high thresholds for industrial action ballots
• severely restrict the right to picket and peacefully protest
• render strikes ineffective through longer notice periods
• significantly reduce union facility time and withdraw check off of union dues in the public sector
• give the Certification Officer investigatory powers into trade unions without specific reason
• require union members to “contract in” to their union’s Political Fund every 5 years significantly reducing the ability of unions to engage in political activity.

Conference believes that:
• it is almost without precedent that a government should seek to force through legislation that will undermine funding of the main opposition party.
• this is a partisan and brazenly political attack. David Cameron is targeting union and Labour funding which is fair, clean and democratic, while doing nothing about spending limits nor addressing the fact that Tories are financed by a small pool of mega-rich donors.
• workers’ right, including the right to strike, are essential to the labour movement’s ability to stand up for workers’ interests, and democracy.
• the good work undertaken by the Work and Prosperity Commission in their review of working life before the election offers a useful framework for the Labour Party to develop a policy which strengthens the employment rights of workers in the UK.
• the UK has some of the lowest employment rights protections in the OECD and regrets that our legislation does not comply with ILO core conventions.
• stronger employment and trade union rights increase productivity, reduce inequality and help create a more balanced economy and urges the Labour Party to commit to ensuring they are at the heart of a progressive Labour economic policy.

Conference calls on:
• all sections of the Labour Party to actively oppose the passage of the Bill, together with any associated secondary legislation, through Parliament.
• the Labour Party to use this opportunity to campaign for the introduction of secure workplace balloting to be used in all industrial action/strike ballots and for statutory ballots relating to internal trade union democracy.
• Labour to commit to repeal the Bill and all associated legislation/regulation when Labour returns to Government and to introduce a comprehensive package of employment rights compliant with ILO core conventions and European human rights obligations, along with the levelling up of workers’ rights across the EU; legislate for strong rights to unionise, win recognition and collective bargaining, strike, picket and take solidarity action.
The Party should unambiguously promote trade union membership and workers’ rights and to highlight the positive role played by trade unions in the UK in 2015.

Campaigners urge Labour conference delegates to back the right to strike

Activists from the grassroots Right To Strike campaign will attend Labour Party conference to build support for motions submitted by Broxtowe, Newark, Chesterfield, and Labour International CLPs, committing the Labour Party to mounting a serious campaign against anti-union laws.

The Chesterfield CLP motion includes a resolution that “the next Labour government should repeal these attacks (if they pass), repeal all the anti-trade union laws passed by the 1979-1997 Tory governments, and legislate for strong rights to unionise, win union recognition and collective bargaining, strike, picket and take solidarity action.”

Campaigners will be meeting at 12pm on 27th September at Brighton railway station.

Will you be coming? Let us know by joining the Facebook event here.

Contemporary motions submitted to Labour Party conference on right to strike and anti-union laws

At least four Constituency Labour Parties have submitted policy to the upcoming Labour Party conference (27-30 September, Brighton) on the Tories’ threats to trade unions and the wider issue of the right to organise and strike. The Right to Strike campaign believes similar policy has been submitted by other CLPs and is currently drawing up a list.

There are many important issues coming up at the conference, but in many ways this is the most important of all. Workers’ freedom to organise and take action, including to strike, is the crucial right which determines ability to affect everything else – from wages to social provision to the environment.

We’ve just heard that at least two of these have now been accepted onto the agenda which is brilliant. We will be at Labour Party conference on Sunday 27th to lobby delegates to vote for them and to get involved in the campaign.

***

Broxtowe CLP has submitted the following “contemporary resolution” on trade union rights to Labour Party conference.

Conferences notes

1. That at the start of August trade unions launched a “Kill the Bill” campaign against the Tories’ proposed legislative assault on trade unions and workers’ rights.
2. In early September it emerged that the Government is considering requiring those who take part in a picket to carry an authorisation letter and hand over their details to the police.
3. That in addition to even more severely curtailing the right to strike, the Trade Union Bill also attacks unions’ ability to organise and fund a political voice, including the vital link between the unions and our party.

Conference believes

1. That workers’ rights, including an effective right to strike, are essential both to the labour movement’s ability to stand up for workers’ interests and to democracy.
2. That the Tories are blatant hypocrites, requiring 40 percent or more for a strike though their party took office with the support of less than 25 percent of the electorate.

Conference resolves

1. To work with unions and organisations including the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom and Right to Strike to oppose and attempt to stop the Trade Union Bill.
2. That the next Labour government should repeal these attacks (if they pass), repeal all the anti-trade union laws passed by the 1979-1997 Tory governments, and legislate for strong rights to unionise, win union recognition and collective bargaining, strike, picket and take solidarity action.
3. That the party should unambiguously promote trade union membership and workers’ rights.

***

And this from Chesterfield CLP:

Conferences notes

1. That at the start of August trade unions launched a “Kill the Bill” campaign against the Tories’ proposed legislative assault on trade unions and workers’ rights.
2. That in addition to even more severely curtailing the right to strike, the Trade Union Bill also attacks unions’ ability to organise and fund a political voice, including the vital link between the unions and our party.

Conference believes

1. That workers’ rights, including an effective right to strike, are essential both to the labour movement’s ability to stand up for workers’ interests and to democracy.
2. That the Tories are hypocritical requiring 40 percent or more for a strike when victory in parliamentary elections can be won on a much lower percentage of the vote.

Conference resolves

1. To work with the unions and with organisations including the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom and Right to Strike to oppose and attempt to stop the Trade Union Bill.
2. That the next Labour government should repeal these attacks (if they pass), repeal all the anti-trade union laws passed by the 1979-1997 Tory governments, and legislate for strong rights to unionise, win union recognition and collective bargaining, strike, picket and take solidarity action.
3. That the party should unambiguously promote trade union membership and workers’ rights.

***

This from Newark CLP:

Conference notes that at the start of August trade unions launched a “Kill the Bill” campaign against the Tories’ proposed assault on trade unions and workers’ rights.

Conference notes that, in addition to ending the ability to vote to strike by a straightforward majority, the Trade Union Bill renders strikes ineffective through longer notice periods, criminalisation of picketing, use of agency labour, punitive fines and state interference via the Certification Officer.

Conference notes that on 6 August it was announced that the legislation will attack public sector unions’ ability to organise by compulsorily ending automatic dues check-off arrangements. It also attacks unions’ right to fund a working-class political voice, including the vital link between unions and our party.

Conference believes that workers’ rights, including the right to strike, are essential to the labour movement’s ability to stand up for workers’ interests, and to democracy.

Conference believes that the Tories are blatant hypocrites, requiring 40 percent or more for a strike though their party took office with the support of less than 25 percent of the electorate.

Conference resolves

To work with the unions and campaigning organisations to oppose the Trade Union Bill.
That the party should unambiguously promote trade union membership and workers’ rights.

***

Labour International CLP, representing party members around the world in other countries, has submitted this:

Conference notes that at the start of August trade unions launched a campaign against the Tories’ proposed assault on trade unions and workers’ rights.

Conference notes that workers in other countries with successful, advanced industrial economies and a strong manufacturing base, such as Germany, enjoy wide-ranging employment and union rights.

Conference believes that these rights play a key role in these countries’ economic and social success.

Conference notes that on 6 August it was announced that the legislation will compulsorily end automatic check-off arrangements, affecting public sector unions. It also attacks unions’ right to fund the vital link between unions and our party.

Conference notes that legal advice made public at the end of August states the legislation would undermine freedom of association as set out in Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Conference believes that workers’ rights, including the right to strike, are essential to the labour movement’s ability to stand up for workers’ interests, and to democracy.

Conference resolves

To oppose the Trade Union Bill through legal routes as well as by campaigning in conjunction with the TUC, affiliated unions and socialist societies.
That the next Labour government should repeal these measures if they pass, legislate for strong positive rights to unionise, win recognition and collective bargaining, strike, picket and take solidarity action.
That the party should unambiguously promote trade union membership and workers’ rights in line with ILO standards, along with the levelling-up of workers’ rights across the EU.

Join Right to Strike in Manchester on 4th October

Right to Strike 4 Oct image

The Right to Strike campaign will be demonstrating as part of the TUC’s national march and rally outside the Tory conference in Manchester on Sunday 4th October.

We’ll be meeting at the corner of Booth Street and Oxford Road, by the Royal Northen College of Music, at 12pm, where we’ll form our Right to Strike bloc on the demo. We invite and encourage all affiliated branches to march as part of the Right to Strike bloc – and of course everyone else is welcome!

We’re going to be saying loudly and clearly that the Trade Union Bill needs to be defeated in Parliament, in workplaces, and in the streets. We want the labour movement to take up the demand for positive rights for workers, including the right to strike.

Contact us to let us know that you or your branch will be joining us!

First Right to Strike (open) steering committee

Join us for an open steering committee meeting to co-ordinate national Right to Strike work on October 3rd in Manchester, before the national demonstration at Tory party conference.

If your branch has affiliated please send a delegate. If your branch hasn’t affiliated but you want to get involved please feel free to send someone along and let us know you intend to come.

We will meet at 6pm at a venue TBC in central Manchester. Prior to our meeting Manchester Trades Council are having a meeting about the Trade Union Bill, you are welcome to join us at it.

Please let us know if you or someone from your branch intends to come by emailing us at ourrighttostrike@gmail.com

Open letter: Stop the anti Trade Union Bill

To sign your name to this open letter please email ourrighttostrike[at]gmail.com

The full extent of the attack on our rights by the Tory anti Trade Union Bill is becoming clear. Not just introducing hypocritically high strike ballot thresholds (which most politicians wouldn’t pass in elections) whilst refusing to consider workplace or online balloting, the bill seeks to criminalise effective picketing, remove our political funds and even stop unions using social media. We cannot stand for these unjust laws.
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