Anti-strike law: Major protest planned to defend the right to strike

Zarah Sultana, Michael Rosen and Mick Lynch will be speaking at the demonstration

Mick Lynch speaking at a rally

The government’s minimum service levels bill is set to return to the House of Commons on Monday January 30. The bill, which has been dubbed an ‘anti-strike law’ seeks to ensure a ‘minimum service’ is maintained in some sectors when strikes take place.

The bill has been highly controversial, with trade unions and civil liberties groups calling for the government to scrap the plans. Among those opposing the bill is campaign group Enough is Enough.

Coinciding with the bill’s return to parliament, Enough is Enough has called a protest outside Downing Street. According to the campaign group, “The law targets frontline workers – from nurses and paramedics to firefighters and rail workers – threatening to take away their right to strike. And if workers don’t accept its terms, they face the sack.”

The protest will be addressed by a range of high profile figures, including Labour MP Zarah Sultana and the children’s author Michael Rosen. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch, CWU general secretary Dave Ward and UCU general secretary Jo Grady are also set to speak at the demonstration.

Enough is Enough has been running an ongoing campaign against the ‘anti-strike bill’. The group’s petition against the bill has received over 150,000 signatures. Protests have already been held outside the offices of Tory MPs.

Attempting to enforce minimum service levels could force trade unions to facilitate their own members crossing picket lines. ASLEF assistant general secretary Simon Weller has said the proposals would remove a “fundamental part of the right to strike” and make picketing effectively illegal. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has also suggested the proposals might breach the European Human Rights Act. FBU general secretary Matt Wrack has said the government has “no mandate” for the legislation and described the bill as “an undemocratic, authoritarian attempt to cut across a growing mood of rebellion in the country”.

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

Image credit: Steve Eason – Creative Commons

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