Protecting the right to strike in the ILO and the European Court of Human Rights: the significance of Appn No 44873/09 Ognevenko v Russia

31 May 2019

By Tonia Novitz, Professor of Labour Law, University of Bristol

Freedom of association is a foundational principle of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Not only is this principle recognised in the ILO Constitution, first established as Part XIII of the Treaty of Versailles, a century ago; but it is integral to the tripartite structure of the ILO, which relies on collective worker and employer organisations for its very operation. From the 1950s onwards, ILO supervisory bodies such as the Governing Body Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) and the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) have asserted that freedom of association also entails a right to strike. The CEACR has considered that the entitlement to organise and take industrial action is implicit in ILO Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and the Protection of the Right to Organise, which guarantees to trade unions the entitlement to organise their own activities. The CFA has considered the right to strike so vital to freedom of association that it is constitutionally guaranteed, regardless of ratification of ILO Convention No. 87 (or any other ILO Convention). On this basis, these committees have developed an extensive body of jurisprudence regarding protection of the right to strike and the legitimate restrictions that may be placed on its exercise – for it is not an unlimited entitlement, but must be subject to other aspects of private and public interest. That state of affairs continued for more than 50 years, until the employers’ group walked out of the ILO Conference Committee on the Application of Standards, objecting to protection of the right to strike under ILO Convention No. 87. This was a blow to the tripartite cooperation which had long been a feature of the ILO (see La Hovary, 2013 and Bellace, 2014), and to the potential influence of ILO standards regarding the right to strike in human rights litigation internationally, including before the European Court of Human Rights.

We need to fight the Thatcher revolution with progressive ideas of our own

30 May 2019

A ministry of labour would be the ultimate resistance to the Thatcher revolution and begin reversing decades of anti-union legislation, Professor Keith Ewing has said.

The Institute for Employment Rights takes its manifesto to Washington

01 March 2019

By Carolyn Jones, IER Director

Last week, the officers of the Institute of Employment Rights were guest speakers at an international conference of trade unionists, policy makers and academics in Washington DC.

The IER's 30th Anniversary Reception

By Roger Jeary, IER blogger

15 February 2019

On a cold wet night, the celebratory mood inside the well-filled Great Hall at NEU, Mabledon Place could not be dampened, as members, friends and supporters of the Institute arrived to celebrate its 30th Anniversary.

Civil Liability Bill: An attack on workers' rights

08 February 2019


On November 20, the government passed the Civil Liability Bill through its final stages, the effect of which strips workers of their rights. The fight to stop this goes on and we need members' help.

Outsourcing on the ‘never-never’

14 January 2019

By Professor David Whyte and Ben Crawford, University of Liverpool

In the first report from a collaborative project between the Institute of Employment Rights and the University of Liverpool - Employment Rights and the Shareholder: Workers Rights vs Owners Rights - Professor David Whyte and PhD student Ben Crawford explain how and why the UK's privatisation model is falling apart.

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