With the election of a hard-right Tory government promising new restrictions on the right to strike, it is more urgent than ever that the entire labour movement unites to resist anti-union laws.
Free Our Unions was initiated by The Clarion magazine and Lambeth Unison. It is now backed by dozens of unions branches, committees, and local Labour Parties. Four national trade unions – IWGB, FBU, RMT, and PCS – have supported the campaign via their Annual General Meetings and/or National Executive Committees. It was initially established to promote and amplify policies passed at Labour Party conferences calling for the abolition of all anti-union laws, not only the most recent, and to demand Labour fight for this policy in opposition and commit to enacting it in government. (For more background to the campaign, click here.)
Free Our Unions now plans renewed campaigning against the Tories’ proposed new laws, and is calling for united and coordinated activity between existing campaign groups currently active on these issues.
In response to the RMT’s national ballot of workers in Network Rail and 15 mainline Train Operating Companies, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said the government will accelerate plans for new laws to restrict transport workers’ strikes. The plan is not new: the Tories’ 2019 manifesto included a commitment to implement the laws, which wouldContinue reading “As Tories reassert anti-strike law threat, unions must resist”
By a Free Our Unions supporter On 10 May, refuse workers in the Hertfordshire town of Welwyn Hatfield launched an unofficial strike to deal with a manager they said was sexist, racist, and bullying. A hundred refuse, recycling, and maintenance workers employed by commercial waste contractor Urbaser, members of Unite, refused to work and madeContinue reading “Welwyn walkout shows how workers can win”
In October 2021, Free Our Unions collaborated with Earth Strike’s “Empower the Unions” initiative to launch a statement calling for joint struggle between the labour and climate movements against anti-strike laws which constrain workers’ ability to fight for radical action on the environment. This online meeting, co-sponsored by Free Our Unions, Earth Strike: Empower theContinue reading “Online meeting, Tuesday 17 May, 7pm: Why the fight against climate change needs free trade unions”
Momentum, the left-wing organisation in the Labour Party, is conducting its second annual policy primary, to determine which motions Momentum will encourage members to submit to CLPs for submission to Labour conference. The Fire Brigades Union and North Essex Momentum have submitted the motion below, reaffirming previous conference policy calling for the repeal of allContinue reading “Momentum Policy Primary motion calls for repeal of all anti-union laws”
By a Free Our Unions supporterThe disgraceful sacking of 800 P&O ferries workers, and the subsequent union campaign to reverse it, show the abject inadequacy and weakness of existing employment legislation. P&O took their action in the full knowledge that it broke employment law. In the face of recent government threats to legislate to forceContinue reading “Solidarity with P&O workers! Defy the anti-union laws, and fight for their abolition!”
TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference fringe meeting, 22 March, 11:30: Disabled People for Free Trade Unions!
Free Our Unions is co-sponsoring a fringe meeting, along with the RMT’s Disabled Members Advisory Committee, at the forthcoming TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference. The meeting will take place on Tuesday 22 March, at 11:30, via Zoom. Speakers include: • Janine Booth, RMT Disabled Members Advisory Committee and Free Our Unions• Sarah Woolley, General Secretary, BakersContinue reading “TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference fringe meeting, 22 March, 11:30: Disabled People for Free Trade Unions!”
The University and College Union (UCU) branch at Birkbeck, University of London, has become the latest trade union branch to support the Free Our Unions campaign. Birkbeck UCU will also be sending a motion to UCU’s Congress which aims to commit the union to active campaigning on the issue of anti-union and anti-strike laws. FreeContinue reading “Birkbeck UCU says: free our unions!”
Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh has written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps about the inspiring action of dockers who’ve blocked Russian oil and gas coming into the UK. Haigh says: “There is a real risk under existing laws that for taking a brave moral stand, trade unionists could risk litigation or other action for refusing to handle Russian cargo.Continue reading “Give workers who refuse to unload Russian fuel legal back-up: repeal the anti-union laws!”
By a Free Our Unions supporter Actions by UK dockers in Cheshire, Kent and Scotland’s northern isles to stop Russian fossil fuels from coming to the UK, in protest at the invasion of Ukraine, are part of a proud tradition of workers’ action here for political goals. The ILWU union in the US’s West Coast ports hasContinue reading “Political strikes, the war in Ukraine, and the anti-union laws”
Disappointing news from Stormont, where socialist MLA Gerry Carroll’s Trade Union Freedom Bill fell on 1 March by just five votes. The bill would have repealed Tory anti-union and anti-strike laws in Northern Ireland. Had Alliance Party MLAs backed it, it would have passed. Alliance claims to be a “liberal” party, but its MLAs appearContinue reading ““Liberal” MLAs block repeal of laws restricting workers’ freedoms”
UCU activist Rhian Keyse will be speaking on behalf of Free Our Unions at a meeting on 19 February, organised by Labour Left Internationalists (LLI). LLI write: Unite, RMT, CWU, and the TUC passed resolutions in 2021 calling for a joint union demonstration for workers’ and union rights in spring 2022. Since then NHS workers,Continue reading “Pushing workers’ rights up the agenda: Labour Left Internationalists meeting, 5pm, 19 February”
Unite activists write: This dispute, which began in 2019, is a result of the scaffolders not being paid in line with the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI). The rates for the workforce are currently 10-15 per cent (depending on specific roles) below NAECI rates. The 62 workers have been on continuous strike actionContinue reading “Solidarity with striking Actavo scaffs – protest on 22 February”
Bosses at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London have used the courts to block effective picketing by striking security guards, who now face criminal charges if they attempt anything beyond the most tame, ineffectual activity within 200 metres of their workplace. The injunction is another example of how the laws and judiciary are a toolContinue reading “GOSH bosses uses courts to break strike – protest at the Royal Courts of Justice!”
This article is reposted from the website of the Institute for Employment Rights, where it was first published on 28 January. This week, legislation was passed in the House of Commons which not only imposes a levy on trade unions to cover the costs of the Certification Officer but could hit trade unions with huge financial penalties.Continue reading “Tories want to tax unions to pay for the Certification Officer”
Daniel Randall, a co-organiser of our campaign, was recently invited onto “Stick Together”, a labour-movement-based show on Australian community radio station 3CR, to discuss class struggle on London Underground, and the role of public transport in confronting climate change. The conversation also covered the UK’s anti-strike laws. You can listen to the show on theContinue reading “Discussing UK anti-strike laws on Australian community radio”