The latest round of anti-union laws, passed in 2016, is being used to stop a strike in the NHS across England and Wales. Health workers have voted in vast numbers that they reject the Tories’ insulting 3 percent pay award. After inflation that’s a pay cut.
Many have also said they want industrial action. They want to confront the government and press for a well-deserved 15 percent rise. But under the anti-union laws, the turnout in such votes must be 50 percent. And if the consultative ballot doesn’t show that yet, union leaders often say further action is impossible.
When the laws were being debated, union leaders made speeches about fighting to repeal them. They said they would defend the right to strike and be ready to defy the laws.
The cause for more pay for NHS staff is very popular, as is not letting the Tories off the hook for their treatment of health workers. Every activist has to throw themselves into building and winning future votes over NHS pay. They can be won.
But we should also say that whatever the turnout there has to be action.
A priority for the ruling class is fighting trade union organisation because it threatens their profits. So the Tories will never back down from the anti-union laws—unless they face a mass revolt.
Whether it’s over pay or climate chaos, we can’t let the anti-union laws stop crucial fights.