Thursday, 17 December 2009

Unite strike banned by High Court

So, once again a judge has made law by interpreting the harsh anti-union laws in this country in the worst possible way for democracy and workers rights.

The High Court ruling strikes at the very heart of democracy - the numbers who may or may not have been properly balloted (and of course, one should point out that an injunction only means that the court thinks that there is a case to try, not that Unite actually did get it's ballot wrong) were tiny, and considering the high turnout, and overwhelming proportion of those voting yes, would have had naff all effect on the result.

The anti-TU laws in this country have all but crippled the unions over the last fifteen - twenty years, thanks to the Tories who passed them and the Labour government that hasn't had the balls to remember where the party came from and repeal them. The principle has always been that you ballot your members - how the hell were Unite meant to know these people were leaving, even if the members told them, they stay members until their subs stop coming in or they resign, and it's never been a problem in the past.

The laws in this country make it practically impossible to exercise the natural right to withdraw your labour in the event of an industrial dispute. If the employer fears bankruptcy, then they can get back round the table and talk. If BA is indeed losing £1.5 mill a day, then there are better ways of dealing with this than reducing staff and making the rest work dangerously long hours.

Unions don't call strikes lightly, with the costs involved and the hoops to jump through to get a ballot going we can't afford to, and even then we don't ask our members to sacrifice pay unless it's absolutely neccessary. And it does work, look at the Leeds binmen this year (nearly 12 weeks out), the Tanker drivers last year, there are success stories.

Collective bargaining essentially relies on the unions ability to organise workers to take action against an employer, which is a neccessary balance to the employers power to dismiss, lock out, or whatever. If the law in this country makes that all but impossible, then the law needs to be changed.

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