Socialist Worker

We will turn 2 November into a day of protest for union rights

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2477

The 100,000-strong TUC march earlier this month showed the mood against austerity. The Tories fear this spreading to workplaces—and are clamping down on union rights

The 100,000-strong TUC march earlier this month showed the mood against austerity. The Tories fear this spreading to workplaces—and are clamping down on union rights (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Monday 2 November will be a day of trade union mobilisations against the Tory assault on the right to strike.

Activists are mobilising to lobby MPs and protest outside parliament against the Trade Union Bill. More will protest across Britain.

Many workers are clear about what is at stake.

Theresa Rollinson was part of a strike at Care UK in Doncaster last year. The workers struck for 90 days against privatisation.

Theresa told Socialist Worker, “The Tories want unions to be powerless to oppose them pushing through more of their attacks on our services. We need the right to strike.”

The TUC has called a national lobby on the day against the Trade Union Bill.

Some union leaders want to focus anger simply on lobbying Tory MPs. But others want protests. Theresa is going to protest, like many others.

FBU union general secretary Matt Wrack has called for firefighters to get to Westminster’s Old Palace Yard from 11.30am to protest.

North West FBU secretary Les Skarratts told Socialist Worker, “We are taking significant numbers to London.

“We will be lobbying Tories, Lib Dems and Labour MPs who openly oppose the new leadership team.”

Delegation

CWU union rep and Eastleigh postal worker Michael Goozee said his branch committee has been cancelled on 2 November to send a delegation to parliament. He said, “Our general secretary has said he’ll break the law to oppose the bill—that’s good.

“It has to be fought not just with marches and lobbies but with strikes.”

The TUC plans a rally in Westminster Central Hall at 1pm before MPs are lobbied. At 6pm unions will come together to protest in Parliament Square.

Lunchtime protests will take place in workplaces across Britain as well as evening demonstrations.

Barnsley trades council chair Dave Gibson said, “People are angry at this bill and local protests are an opportunity to bring them together.

“We are going to have to get organised locally and nationally to take the fight to the Tories.”

Unison rep Chris Sermanni was part of an all-out strike over pay by homelessness caseworkers in Glasgow this year.

He argued, “Trade union leaders now need to step up and show their collective might. For too long they have been accused—rightly in some cases—of being weak and passive.” 

Dave said, “We’re finding a much wider layer of trade unionists who want to debate what we are going to do to defy the laws. 

“That’s where the Unite the Resistance conference fits so well.”

Chris added, “We’ve fought and beat the anti-union laws in the past. We can do it again now.”


What's in the bill?

The Trade Union Bill will make it harder for workers to strike 

  • It would rule any ballot with a turnout of less than 50 percent invalid
  • Workers in “important public services” would need 40 percent of eligible voters to back action
  • Unions would have to give bosses’ 14 days notice of a strike, double the current 7 days
  • And “intimidation on a picket line” would become a new criminal offence

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