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Defy the Trade Union Act

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Issue 2543
The TUC led by Frances OGrady only put up token resistance to the Trade Union Act
The TUC led by Frances O’Grady only put up token resistance to the Trade Union Act (Pic: Johninnit/Wikimedia commons)

Workers’ rights were rolled back this week as rules in the Trade Union Act 2016 came into force.

Strike ballots can be ruled invalid unless more than 50 percent of workers vote. Few nationwide ballots reach this threshold.

In “important public services”—including some of those working in transport, schools and hospitals—the number of votes to strike must be above 40 percent of those balloted.

All this from a government elected by 25 percent of those eligible to vote!

Unions must now give bosses 14 days notice before any walkout, up from seven. This saps the momentum of workers’ resistance—and buys bosses time to prepare.

Unions will also have to appoint a “picket supervisor” in disputes.

Far more should and could have been done before the Act was passed. The TUC and most union leaders put up only token resistance. The undemocratic new rules will make it even harder for reps and workplace activists to get official strikes called.

But they aren’t the end. We should demand defiance from union leaders. And we shouldn’t accept that national strikes are now impossible.

We need a drive to strengthen union organisation, which will help with turnout, more local strikes, and a willingness to use unofficial action.

The Tories hope union leaders will accept and impose these laws—and call many fewer strikes.

They must be pressured not to do so.

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