Thomas Bridge 13 July 2015

Union paves the way for illegal strike action

Britain’s largest union has erased a clause in its rulebook requiring strikes to remain legal, ahead of the introduction of tighter controls on industrial action.

Unite has passed a motion to remove a caveat requiring protests to remain within the law in measures that could raise the likelihood of strikes across local government and transport.

Following a unanimous vote last week, the union’s objectives will now no longer include the phrase ‘so far as may be lawful’.

On Wednesday the Government is expected to introduce a ban on strike action in key services that fail to receive at least a 50% turnout in ballots and the support of at least 40% of those entitled to vote.

Unite’s general secretary Len McCluskey this weekend told the Durham Miners’ Gala: ‘Unite is not going to see itself rendered toothless by passively submitting to unjust laws. If the Tories wish to put trade unionism beyond the law, then they must take the consequences.

‘We are ready for the fight, and we will, I believe, find allies throughout society, amongst everyone who cares for freedom and democracy.’

His calls mirror those made earlier this year by Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, who earlier this year said his union would ‘have to look at’ taking unlawful action that breaks upcoming restrictions.

Both unions were central to the local government pay strike that last year saw mass walkouts across the country over wage offers put forward by employers.

Unite was involved in strikes across the London Underground this week and a central player in pay demands that almost bought industrial action to much of the National Rail network.

It has planned multiple strikes across local government this year, including action in Bromley, Croydon and Hackney against service outsourcing or pay restrictions.

Photo: Phil Rogers/flickr

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