Congress notes that the anti-trade union laws – not just the 2016 Trade Union Act, but multiple laws going back to 1980 – continually undermine workers’ ability to organise and campaign. A further example of anti-union laws is the Criminal Justice Public Order Act 1994, Section 127, which makes it a criminal offence to induce prison officers to take any form of industrial action and by doing so could lead to contempt of court.
These laws mean our movement is fighting the challenges of low pay, insecurity and erosion of hard-won terms and conditions with our hands tied behind our backs.
It is clear that we now face a major threat from a right-wing Conservative
government who, despite what they may be saying, are prepared to cut workers’ rights and further undermine trade union organising in order to achieve their ideological aims outside the EU.
Congress welcomes recent Labour Party conference policy (2015, 2017, 2018) to repeal all anti-union laws and replace them with strong legal rights for workers and unions, including rights to strike and picket.
Congress believes it is crucial the next Labour government acts quickly to
implement this policy.
Congress believes workers need strong rights to join, recruit to and be represented by an independent union; strike/take industrial action by a process, at a time and for demands of their own choosing, including in solidarity with any other workers and for broader social and political goals; and picket freely.
Congress applauds the work of TUC affiliates in continuing to take action, including strike action and action short of strike action, to defend members at work and challenge employers that breach statutory trade union rights.
Congress welcomes Labour’s commitment to reviving collective bargaining but believes that – to quote the Institute of Employment Rights – “collective bargaining without the right to strike is collective begging”.
Congress is concerned by the lack of legislation allowing trade unions to have
direct access to workers in unorganised workplaces. There is legislation enshrined in New Zealand which allows trade unions the right to approach workers in their workplaces without obstruction from anti-union employers, which has seen a significant growth in trade union membership.
Congress calls on present and future governments to legislate to incorporate
access laws for all trade unions onto the statute book.
Congress agrees to campaign, and encourage affiliated unions and trades councils to campaign, for the repeal of all anti-union laws which may be given effect by new permissive legislation and their replacement with strong legal rights, including to strike and picket; and for a clear commitment on this from Labour.
Congress agrees that the General Council will ensure that these demands are
central to all campaigning around employment and workers’ rights, such as the New Deal Charter.
Mover: Fire Brigades Union
Seconder: Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union
Supporters: Unite, NASUWT, POA, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association