Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The class war is alive and well in the UK

Once again a strike, supported overwhelmingly in a democratic vote on a high turn out, has been overturned by a judge on a trivial technicality. This is the second time this has happened in this dispute and it is class war pure and simple. The 1992 trade union legislation was deliberately designed to make lawful strike action onerous for unions. But you might have thought that a reasonable middle class judge would have recognised that the ballot was carried out fairly and expressed to democratic will of the BA workers. Not so.

Where do we go from here? This can only lead to more wildcat strike action of the kind that was successfully employed by the Lyndsey Oil refinery strikers last year. They didn't bother with a ballot. They just voted with their feet and walked out. This is good enough for me - democracy in action. The plain fact is that the 'lawful' right to strike doesn't actually provide workers with that much protection. They can still be sacked - after 12 weeks - and still be victimised. The real danger is that it leaves the union open to punitive damages from the employers - so unions have to disavow 'unlawful' strike action.

Unions were formed in struggle. Nothing has ever been given to working people - they have had to fight for it. Workers can still go on strike and they can still picket in support of their colleagues if they want to. They just can't do it lawfully. The Tolpuddle martyrs were prepared to act illegally to and they suffered transportation. Maybe workers will have to do this to regain the rights they have been denied by the ruling class.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is illegal to strike in the UK, whether you ballot or not. There in NO legal right to withdraw your labour... The fact that then judges out these hurdles in our way doesn't change the law. Are you a worker or retired? I ask as you talk about workers as 'they' when for me it's very much a 'we'... and it sin't going to be better the Tory LDs in power. The old etonians won't protect us when we start to hurt the profits of their doners... Heaven help us all

Jim G

Howard Thorp said...

I'm an active trade unionist who believes that the right to withdraw your labour should be part of our constitution - as it is in France.

I'm glad to see that common sense prevailed and the judgement was later overturned.