Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Moral Position on the Right to Strike


The Court of Appeal ruling on the appeal brought by ASLEF and the RMT has brought the UK's labour movement welcome news - not least in the context of a potential increase in industrial action in the months/years to come.

Drawing on the BBC News online piece on the story the background to the decision is this:

Aslef and the RMT challenged injunctions blocking strikes over small faults in procedure, such as polling those not entitled to vote.

The Court of Appeal clarified the law, saying unions cannot be expected to always have up-to-date membership records.

The court said in future that the information should be "as accurate as was reasonably practicable" and that allowances should be made for "small accidental failures" in administration.

Full story:

The response of the RMT's General Secretary, Bob Crow, neatly (and typically) drew out the moral and political implications of the decision:

“This morning’s judgment is not only a victory for staff on Serco Docklands and RMT’s 80,000 members but it is also a massive victory for the seven million trade unionists in the UK.

The Serco Docklands injunction on balloting process would have taken the anti-union laws in this country to within a whisker of effectively banning the right to strike if it had been allowed to stand and would have tightened the noose around the neck.

This landmark victory for working people in this country could not have been secured without the sterling work of Richard Arthur and Doug Christie from Thompson’s solicitors and the advocacy of RMT’s standing counsel John Hendy QC."

RMT Press Release:

Naturally we can expect the government to attempto to 'reform' the law on industrial action partly as a result of its current 'consultation' of resolving workplace disputes.

In any case the CoA decision is a thumbs up for the thousands of trade unionists facing job loss and a great boost for the TUC March on 26th March.

See you all there!


1 comment:

John Clements said...


I can't get too excited by the CoA decision. I don't mean to disprage the success of the RMT and ASLEF but, I cannot see this government, in this economic and political environment allowing industrial action, particularly in the public sector, taking off with no attempt to undermine it.

If the government can't do it straightforwardly by threatening workers with their jobs and hope that this fear dampens their zeal for action, it will resort to the courts.

In the short term let's see what happens to the police, this outcome will be very interesting for others in the public sector.

Hope to see you soon.