The right to strike

The right to strike

Last November, my Union branch invited Gemma Short of the Right to Strike campaign to talk about the need to change the Trade Union Laws. I have reported the speech and discussion on the branch’s web site, and shall précis it here.

The Thatcher Government’s changed the law significantly and non of the Government’s since have repealed those changes. The key changes have been the mandatory need for individual balloting for strike decisions and the prohibition of solidarity action. The full details have been documented in a House of Commons Research Paper,

Labour’s 2017 Manifesto promised to repeal the 2016 Trade Union act, which further limited picketing, introduced turnout thresholds for ballots, gave employers the right to refuse to deduct union fees from the payroll and that,

A Labour government will ensure Britain abides by the global Labour standards of the ILO conventions.

This is more radical than it sounds since most of Thatcher’s laws are in breach of the ILO standards.

We concluded that the effective right to organise is the workers defence against discrimination and exploitation and today’s Laws have a chilling effect on that right to organise and to take effective action.

Academies of Justice

Academies of Justice

Will Hutton in the Guardian states that the Greens propose to extend the rights to belong to Trade Unions and to prohibit discrimination against TU members. It’s true see, check out their policy statement http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/wr.html, they also plan for a a right of Union recognition. Where’s the Labour Party on this? Actually, where’s the TUC and unions? I know it’s a long way from manifesto, to government policy, as a long term labour party member, boy do I know, but if the party policy ain’t right, then the parliamentary party’s policy and government policy is unlikely to be.

Two sides to the coin

Two sides to the coin

I decided to go for a drink at the creative unions reception. On my way over, I saw the ‘free cash’ sign. I think it was an advert for an ATM without charges rather than a campaign statement. When choosing a search engine, or curating a social network list it’s important to ensure you don’t only mix with those with whom one agrees. The reception consisted of a mix of speeches and sets. The speeches were by John Smith, Harriet Harman and Tony Burke. Smith, or was it Harman,

The struggle of the class

The struggle of the class

I stayed up the People’s History Museum after the meeting and had a quick wander round the standing exhibition. Since it’s a museum of the working class, it’s stronger on the period after the industrial revolution and focuses on the coming of the franchise, the foundation of the trade unions and the Labour Party and the suffragettes. I did however stop at their exhibitions on Thomas Paine and even earlier the Levellers. It opens with two panels on corruption of power and the secret societies which were the precursors of the trade unions, both of which are becoming more accurate by the day.

Don’t Spy on Us

Don’t Spy on Us

I was at #Dontspyonus day of action earlier today. Since it was more of a conference than a demo, one of the more comfortable I have been on. The plenary sessions were noted at this article at Liberal Democrat Voice. Apart from its cynical LibDem sectarianism, it’s reasonably accurate and gives a good flavour of the speeches made in the plenary sessions, particularly Alan Rusbridger & Cory Doctorow. Alan Walpole presents his report on his blog here. For more and less, you can see English Pen’s curated Storify here.

Clean Politics, a bit of Ed, a bit of me

Ed Miliband makes his speech; the autocue is here at Labour List. This speech more than most, one must read his words, everyone else will add their spin. So, here’s mine, by my reading, the key points for change are,

  • Affiliation Memberships by Trade Unions are to be based on consent.
  • A new code of conduct for candidates in internal elections and selections, (we have one now; so who’s fault is it that it isn’t good enough?)
  • Limiting expenditure  including  gifts in kind and 3rd party expenditure internal elections and selections (Good idea, the devil’s in the detail).
  • Regulation of CLP/TU teaming agreements (again an incremental reform; I’d like to see the evidence that the current agreements are being abused.)
  • He proposes that MP’s should be prohibited from having second jobs, (Yes please,  and include the Mayor of London in this proposal.)
  • He proposes that unspecified measures should be taken to clean up lobbying and conflicts of interests in Parliament (Perhaps the Labour Party should expel the worst offenders, and include Peers in the list.)
  • He proposes that Labour’s candidate for London Mayor is to be chosen by supporters, not members. (Why would we want the advice of people who won’t join?)

He also refers to the opening out of policy making since his election as Leader. This is delusional, moving policy initiation to a ‘bit bucket’ on the web is not extending policy making.