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Protect the right to strike march and rally
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Event details
Sat, 27 Jan 2024 - 12:00 to 15:30

Montpellier Gardens
GL50 1UL
United Kingdom


Our workers rights are under attack again.

Join us at Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham at 12pm on Saturday 27 January. Celebrate our history. Protest against the government. Stand up for your rights. 

Forty years ago – on 25th Jan 1984 - Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government attacked trade union rights at GCHQ. Union members were told to resign their membership or be sacked. After a long campaign marked by the fortitude of the workers and their families, and the solidarity of the whole movement, they were reinstated when an incoming Labour government repealed the ban. 

Today, the government has passed laws that could restrict the right to strike for over five million workers.. The right to strike is a fundamental British liberty. We must defend it at all costs. 

We have won before. We will win again. Join our march and rally on 27 January.  

The TUC are supporting this march and rally, which is organised by PCS South West.

Ban of trade unions at GCHQ and the union fightback 

40 years ago, Margaret Thatcher’s government announced its decision to impose a total ban on trade union membership at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Staff were ordered to resign their membership or face dismissal – 14 refused to do so and were sacked. For more than 13 years, a small group of brave GCHQ staff and their unions campaigned for the right to belong to a union, commanding huge support throughout the labour movement. Marches regularly took place in Cheltenham – where many GCHQ staff are based – between 1984 and 1997. Their principled and sustained campaign ended in 1997, when the Labour government overturned the ban on unions. Staff at GCHQ are now members of PCS. The right to organise collectively to protect people in and out of work is a fundamental human right. Come to our event to learn from the past and celebrate the trailblazing campaign to restore workers’ rights at GCHQ. 

Threats to union rights today 

The fight for our union rights is not over. Last year, the Tories launched their latest move to restrict workers’ rights, introducing the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act. The law stipulates that when workers in certain sectors lawfully vote to strike, they could be forced to attend work – and sacked if they don’t comply. This undemocratic new law could curtail the right to strike for 1 in 5 workers. This is the last thing our crumbling public services or our dedicated frontline workers need – these draconian laws will poison industrial relations and drag out disputes. Ministers are punishing paramedics and rail staff for daring to stand up for decent pay and better services. But make no mistake. We won’t stand by and let workers get sacked for defending their pay and conditions. And we won’t rest until this law has been repealed. Our message is loud and clear. The entire trade union movement will rally behind any worker who loses their fundamental right to strike. 

Timings and location 

12pm - gather at Montpellier Gardens

12:30 - march departs through town centre to Pittville Park (approximately 1 hour walk)

13:30 - rally in Pittville Park 

Form up order

Take a look at our plan for the form up order for each union.


Download a leaflet and poster pack to promote the march and rally. Contact if you’d like us to post some leaflets or posters to you.

A5 leaflet - Download PDF

A3 poster - Download PDF

Social graphics - Download JPGs

Please do not bring helium balloons or other large inflatables to this demonstration. The march route is not suitable for large inflatables. Bring your best union banners, placards and flags instead!

Stay safe! If you are bringing children or vulnerable people we suggest taking a photo in the morning to remember what they’re wearing, and if possible give them a piece of paper with a parent/carer’s mobile number on.

Transport and Travel

Getting to Cheltenham

Cheltenham is a very well-connected town, with frequent train services to all major UK cities, an extensive bus network, good road and motorway links. 


Train connections are excellent from across the UK to Cheltenham Spa station. The station is served by approximately 8 to 12 trains every hour during Mondays to Saturdays although it is always best to check live timetables for up-to-date information. Use the National Rail website for live timetables and to see a full overview of the station's facilities.

Cheltenham train station is a two platform station, with road-side exits on both sides. A short walk from your platform to the main entrance, finds you at the Bus Station and the Taxi rank

Buses and coaches 

Take a look at our coaches available to book

Our coach listings are being updated frequently. Contact your union branch or local trades council to see if they are planning to run a coach to Cheltenham. 

If you are organising a coach to Cheltenham, please note that coaches can drop off at Royal Well Bus Station. Coaches can then park up at Kingsville Road, Kingsditch Trading Estate, GL51 9NZ during the march and rally. If you are organising a coach to Cheltenham and you are happy for all union members (not just those from your own union) to book a seat on your coach, please send details to

Over 20 inter-city bus routes and 50 buses arrive daily into the centre of Cheltenham. Click here for bus and coach services with times of travel from Cheltenham. 

You can catch a National Express Coaches or Mega Bus across the British Isles to all major cities and towns in the UK from Cheltenham (GL50 3PD) with frequent, reliable services to Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter, Cardiff, Manchester, Sheffield and Edinburgh. 

For instance, for connections to London, National Express Coaches run 15 times a day from Cheltenham to London Victoria daily from as low as £5 from 2am to 8pm. 

Getting there by car 

If you do prefer to drive, Cheltenham can be easily accessed via major UK roads and motorways. Cheltenham's direct approach is via Junction 11 of the M5 (follow signs for the town centre), making it easily accessible from all areas of the country, including Bristol, London and Birmingham, all of which are under a two-hour drive from the town. 

The town can also be accessed via the A40, which runs through the town centre between London and Monmouthshire, Wales (via Oxford), the A417 from Cirencester, the M5 motorway including junction 11 directly and 11a indirectly, and has straightforward links to the M4 and M6 motorways. 


There will also be a shorter march route, as well as BSL interpreters at the rally and a small covered seating area and power for those who need it. 

Our shorter march route will start from Boots Corner (GL50 4DJ) at around 12.45pm, ending in Pittville Park. There will be stewards there to support you. 

We want everyone attending TUC events to have a safe and enjoyable experience. If you require any adjustments or assistance to participate at this event, please email

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