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Protect the right to strike

The government’s draconian Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act was forced through parliament by the government. But the campaign to protect the right to strike continues.

Minimum service levels during strikes briefing

Government ministers can now decide that a certain minimum level of service should be provided during strike action in Great Britain.  

If a strike is called, an employer could then name individuals who must attend work even if those people democratically supported the action. 

Unions that fall foul of the complex legislation could face huge claims for damages against them. Individuals could lose their right to automatic protection from unfair dismissal from taking part in strike action and risk being sacked. 

Read our resource to understand your rights.

Protect the right to strike march and rally

Forty years ago, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government attacked trade union rights – at GCHQ, where 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and their families, and the solidarity of the whole movement, they were reinstated when an incoming Labour government repealed the ban.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. 

On Saturday 27 January we celebrated our history in Cheltenham with an incredible turnout

Take a look at our photos from the day - all credits are ⓒJess Hurd.

Thank you to our organisers, PCS and TUC South West, and to everyone involved. 

Special Congress 

The TUC held a special Congress on Saturday 9 December to set out the next stage of our campaign against the Conservatives’ anti-strike laws. 

At the historic special Congress, we agreed to continue our campaign of opposition and non-compliance - across workplaces and across the country. 

You can read the full statement agreed by TUC unions at special Congress here

Next steps for the campaign against MSLs 

The Conservative government’s attack on working people may have finished its parliamentary stages, but the campaign against the Strikes Act continues. Working people will not accept this heinous attempt to drive down their living standards. We stand together to resist and overcome it. Trade unions will: 

  1. Call an urgent demonstration and provide support in the event a work notice is deployed and a union or worker is sanctioned in relation to a work notice. 
  2. Continue our wider legal challenge to these undemocratic laws – leaving no stone unturned internationally and in UK courts. 
  3. Hold Labour to their commitment to repeal this legislation within their first 100 days of office. 
  4. Call on all employers and public bodies to oppose this counterproductive legislation. We will name and shame any employer who deploys a work notice as anti-union and anti-worker.  

And this movement will never tell our members to cross a picket line. 

What is the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act?  

The government’s draconian Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act was forced through parliament by the government.     

This means that when workers lawfully vote to strike in health, education, fire, transport, border security and nuclear decommissioning, they could be forced to attend work – and sacked if they don’t comply. 

It’s now become clear that in some sectors affected by MSLs, the vast majority of workers would be prohibited from ever taking strike action. This undemocratic new law is set to curtail the right to strike for 1 in 5 workers.  

And that’s not all. This malicious legislation imposes unworkable bureaucracy on unions and their members, and also puts them at risk of huge and unacceptable penalties if they fall foul of the rules. 

The government is riding roughshod over workers’ rights to take strike action to defend their pay and conditions. 

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 malicious, unnecessary and unworkable law has been repealed.  

Our message is loud and clear. The entire trade union movement will rally behind any union attacked under these MSL laws or any worker sacked for exercising their fundamental right to strike.  


Our campaign to protect the right to strike  

We can all be proud of the campaign we have run against this attack on the right to strike. The government thought this law would be easy to push through. But we won allies across society, across the political spectrum and around the world. The condemnation of their anti-democratic plans made headlines at home and abroad. We defeated them an astounding three times in the House of Lords. It has delayed the implementation of this terrible law, embarrassed the Conservatives and made them pay a political price. And together we have also secured a vital commitment from the Labour Party that they will repeal this pernicious law in their first 100 days of office. 

But until we have a Labour government, we will take all opportunities to challenge, frustrate and resist this legislation and its implementation. 

We have secured commitments from the Welsh and Scottish governments as well as city mayors and council leaders that they will not implement minimum service levels. We will continue to push employers not to impose work notices. In every workplace where employers attempt to deploy and impose these draconian rules they can expect the trade union movement to respond with a show of force and solidarity for any workers affected. 

The government has adopted a reckless approach with its minimum service levels bill and the TUC will explore all options to fight this legislation including legal routes.  

The right to strike is a fundamental British liberty that is vital for the balance of power in the workplace. We must defend it at all costs.

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