Anti-union laws

Striking back after the Trade Union Act

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With the Tories’ latest anti-union attacks set to become law,
Mark L Thomas argues that there are ways to initiate struggle that can help stregthen workplace organisation, and prepare for clashes to come.

The Tories’ new Trade Union Act, which passed through parliament last year, is due to come into legal effect this month. The new restrictions it contains, above all thresholds for strike ballots, will further curtail the legal space for strikes.

Kill the Tory Trade Union Bill

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November is set to be a crucial month for trade union members in Britain. With the third reading of the Tories’ Trade Union Bill due to take place this month we have a fight on our hands to defend our rights.

And this fight is not abstract — steel workers now fighting to defend their livelihoods, junior doctors taking to the streets in their tens of thousands, and public sector workers facing the eleventh year of pay restraint, all desperately need strong collective struggles.

Fighting the war on the home front

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The claim of national unity during the First World War is a myth. The reality, argues Chris Fuller, was huge levels of repression by the British ruling class and a largely untold history of resistance.

The carnage of the First World War has been seen by many commentators as different from any conflict that went before. In fact there were hints as to how terrible a war between the rival imperial powers of the early 20th century might be. At the battle of Omdurman in 1898 the British had deployed the Maxim gun for the first time and slaughtered 10,800 Sudanese rebels. However, the war mindset was still that of the "cavalry charge"; few people envisaged the scale of the horror that was 1914-18.

Where is Unite going?

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Unite is Britain's biggest union. The approach it takes to combating austerity and job losses makes a big difference to workers in all sectors. Eddie Cimorelli asks whether Unite is living up to its militant image

Unite has been derided in the right wing press as a union pushing a backward looking confrontational agenda apparently belonging to a bygone age. Len McCluskey, Unite's general secretary, was condemned before the Olympics when he declared that "the unions, and the general community, have got every right to be out protesting.

The inside story

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Facility time-out?

Our new industrial columnist looks at a new Tory attack on the unions

One of the nastier aspects of the coalition has been the way it has not only attacked pensions and other key conditions in the public sector, but at the same time has also tried to undermine effective opposition to these attacks. First came the threats to impose a threshold for turnouts on strike votes. Then Cameron announced a review of the funding for trade union facility time in the public sector.

The anti-union laws

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Journalists at the Johnston Press provincial newspaper group in England have joined a growing list of angry workers who have been denied the right to strike by High Court judges.

I should have been on a picket line with my fellow NUJ members in Sheffield for the first one-day strike in 30 years that involved national action in regional newspapers. Instead I found myself on BBC Radio Sheffield, debating whether court decisions blocking action meant trade unions had lost the right to strike.

I am sure that the judges who took the decision a few days later to uphold the Unite union's appeal against British Airways staff taking action realised that many more people had drawn the same conclusion.

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