Two dangerous examples this week were the first to show how the Trade Union Act can be used to put the brakes on disputes.
In Scotland, the EIS-Fela education union was set begin a strike ballot on Wednesday of thousands of college lecturers.
But it delayed after one college made a legal threat under the new anti-union law.
Socialist Worker understands the challenge is over the wording of the type of action to be taken. This is just one of the many new hurdles in the Tory law.
The college’s challenge won’t have a significant impact on the ballot but it’s a dangerous precedent.
EIS-Fela president John Kelly told Socialist Worker, “The ballot has been delayed by a few days but it’s still going ahead.
“Our members are furious that publicly funded organisations are seeking to use Tory anti-union laws in Scotland to block their democratic right to vote on strikes.”
Meanwhile, at the University of Brighton the UCU union called off a planned strike this week.
It is in dispute over bosses’ insistence that they will decide which issues to negotiate—effectively derecognising the UCU.
Workers were set to strike for two days on Monday and Tuesday. But the union called off the action after fears that bosses could challenge its legality.
The new Trade Union Act requires unions to give bosses two weeks’ notice of a strike, double the previous requirement.
The ballot at Brighton began before the Act came into force, but notice was given after it came into force.
Workers there plan a half-day strike for Friday 31 March, a two-day strike on 26 to 27 April and a work to rule from 31 March.
In Scotland, college lecturers are stepping up their campaign to force college bosses to honour the equal pay deal they struck last year.
Some bosses want national bargaining to fail. The Scottish National Party doesn’t, and will be under pressure to resolve the dispute.
Combining the strikes with political pressure on Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon before the Scottish parliament election last May forced the Scottish government to intervene.
The Trade Union Act must be resisted and unions should not bow down to threats.