Above Photo: StrikeMap.
Parliament passed the third reading of the Tories’ anti-strike bill on Monday 30 January, meaning that only the House of Lords can stop it now. But workers around the country are unfazed. A “megastrike” of half a million workers will take place on 1 February, which includes the National Education Union (NEU) strike. All the details are below, including an easy way of finding out where your nearest picket or protest is so you can support our trade unions.
Tories: Clamping Down On Strikes
As LabourList reported, MPs passed the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill by 315 votes to 246, with no amendments – meaning the bill got through in its original form. As the Canary previously reported, the bill:
will force trade unions in certain industries to make sure some people work during strikes – defeating the object of industrial action entirely… The law will force unions to give in to what the government and/or employers say minimum service levels should be – depending on the sector. Business secretary Grant Shapps will be deciding what a minimum service level looks like for emergency and transport services.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has slammed the Tories. Its general secretary Paul Nowak said:
Rishi Sunak’s government has launched a full-frontal assault on the right to strike. This draconian legislation would mean that when workers democratically vote to strike, they can be forced to work and sacked if they don’t comply. And crucially it will likely poison industrial relations and exacerbate disputes, rather than help resolve them.Ministers know this bill is undemocratic, unworkable and almost certainly illegal. That’s why they are ducking proper scrutiny and consultation – and it’s why this bill was steamrollered through the Commons so quickly.
However, people aren’t taking the Tories’ attacks on strikes lying down, and 1 February will see the biggest fightback yet.
The Neu And Other Walk-Outs
StrikeMap is a voluntary group that logs all strikes in the UK and on the island of Ireland. It has an interactive map of where industrial action is taking place. StrikeMap logs national strikes from the likes of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), the Communication Workers Union (CWU), the University and College Union (UCU), as well as localised actions. Now, the group is geared up for 1 February’s megastrike.
It’s partly focusing on the NEU strike in schools across England and Wales. StrikeMap is encouraging people to go to an NEU picket or demonstration, as well as posting a video message or picture online, in support of the union. The union has an interactive map of its pickets and demonstrations here and a page to upload video content here.
Of course, it’s not just the NEU strike happening on 1 February. The RMT, as well as ASLEF, are striking; the UCU is taking industrial action, and the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union is also getting its civil service members to walk out. Around half a million workers will be taking part in strikes.
Support Trade Unions. They’re About All Of Us.
Given that the anti-strike bill has passed its third reading, it’s all the more important that these workers have all our support. After all, the unions are fighting for services we all use.
However, the UK government’s authoritarian approach to trade union rights isn’t just about workers. It’s about the Tories’ attitude to all of us who aren’t rich and powerful. The anti-strikes legislation sums up this classism. So, get out or get online on 1 February and support the strikes. You need the trade unions – and the trade unions need you.