NSSN lobby of TUC. Photo: Louie Fulton
NSSN lobby of TUC. Photo: Louie Fulton

Come to TUC demo Cheltenham 27 January

James Collett, Gloucestershire Socialist Party

The recognition by the bosses that the working class is back is expressed in the Tories’ new Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act, a vicious piece of legislation which attempts to restrict the right to strike of millions of workers in health, education, fire, transport, border security and nuclear decommissioning. It gives employers the ability to issue ‘work notices’, effectively ordering trade unions to keep services running by selecting their own members to cross picket lines.

Come to Cheltenham on 27 January and join the national march and rally, organised by PCS South West and supported by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), to make it clear that we will not allow this legislation to be used against unions fighting back.

Fight for right to strike

Throughout its history, the working class has secured the right to strike only by fighting for it and defying the bosses’ laws. The 1971 Industrial Relations Act was effectively defeated in 1972, and later repealed, because workers took strike action in defence of those victimised by the legislation, making the laws unworkable and posing the threat of a general strike.

The demo on 27 January is to mark 40 years since Thatcher’s government banned unions at Cheltenham’s GCHQ, a ban which was also overturned by solidarity action from the workers’ movement.

The 2016 (anti-) Trade Union Act, on the other hand, placing undemocratic restrictions on the right to strike, was allowed to pass with barely a finger lifted by the TUC to oppose it. The lesson is clear.

We’ve witnessed the biggest strike wave in decades and millions of workers have experienced their enormous collective power. In reality, aspects of the 2016 legislation have already been overturned by workers’ action: the stipulation that no more than six pickets are allowed on one picket line has been annulled in practice during the strike wave, which saw picket lines of hundreds of workers.

So let’s show the Tories, and the TUC, that we are ready to fight – we should show our strength with a national demonstration in a major city. We will hold the TUC to its commitment to non-compliance with the Act, to organise solidarity action across the union movement in the event of a work notice being deployed. And let’s also make it clear to Keir Starmer that he must keep his promise to repeal anti-union laws, and be warned: the working class is back and it’s here to stay.

National Shop Stewards Network online public meeting against Tory anti-union laws

Tuesday 30 January 6:30pm
Zoom meeting ID 850 1058 8852