The collective force of the working class is stronger than any law

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
17 May 2023

The final vote on the "Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill" - as amended - is due to take place on Monday in the House of Commons.  This Bill is aimed at further limiting the right to strike.

    As the saying goes, however, the law is an ass.  It so happens that there never has been a legal "right to strike", as such.  This right exists only indirectly.  A boss may not sack a worker for going on (official) strike within 12 weeks of that action.  Strike ballot papers have to say so.  On them, unions inform workers that while striking is a breach of their employment contract, they are protected from dismissal.  All this is obviously designed to instill doubt in our minds and discourage strikes. As for the very grudging "protection" the law provides, it isn't even observed by the bosses: during the strikes at Royal Mail, as many as 400 postal workers were suspended, pending the sack!

    No, with this Bill, the government is just playing to its gallery, once more.  lt stipulates that "vital" sectors: health, fire and rescue, education, transport, "decommissioning of nuclear installations/radioactive waste and spent fuel handling" and border security, must operate a "minimum service" during strikes.  As if border officials and train drivers are in the same category as NHS staff and firefighters!  These latter already provide emergency cover whenever they go on strike!  So this is anti-worker politicking, pure and simple. 

    The House of Lords has now amended the Bill so that strikers who refuse "work notices“ to force them into work, won't lose their immunity from being sacked.  It also took out a clause holding unions responsible for workers‘ compliance to these notices.  lf MPs reject the amendments, the Bill will go back to the Lords, and to and fro, until both Houses agree to the wording...

    But whatever the outcome, the fact is that unions are already shackled by unnumerable restrictive laws.  And the only effective way to challenge their legitimacy is to break them.  lt's high time the full collective force of the working class went into action to do just that.