Anti-union laws help block strike action

Carolyn Jones speaks to the Morning Star about the issues caused for trade unions by the UK's anti-union laws.

Commentary icon5 Jul 2013|Comment

05 July 2013

By Luke James

Director of the Institute of Employment Rights Carolyn Jones speaks to the Morning Star about the issues caused for trade unions by the UK’s anti-union laws.

Anti-union laws have contributed to a massive fall in the number of working days “lost” to strike action, employment expert Carolyn Jones said today.

The Office for National Statistics said 250,000 working days were lost in 2012.

It’s significantly down from 1.4 million in 2011, the year of huge public-sector strikes against Con-Dem cuts.

More than 30 trade unions and two million workers walked out on November 30 2011 in the biggest strike seen in Britain for over 30 years.

While there may have been a major fall in the number of working days lost, the number of stoppages called has remained consistent.

There were 149 separate stoppages in 2011 and 131 in 2012 but almost half were for just one day.

And Institute of Employment Rights director Ms Jones told the Star that could reflect a change in tactics by workers in the face of anti-union laws.

She said: “Actions of less than a day – like that taken by thousands of PCS union members last week – are not included in the figures. Neither is action like work to rule or go-slows.

“Most importantly, workers and their unions face hostile employers who are ready to use anti-union laws against workers and the government who threaten more laws if strikes take place.”

Action by public administration workers accounted for 60 per cent of days lost last year and strikes by teachers made up another 16 per cent.

London, the north-east of England and Wales saw the most industrial action.

Disputes over the past two years were mostly caused by attacks on worker’s pay although action over job losses increased last year.

Ms Jones said she was not surprised given that “public-sector workers have seen their pay packets and pensions slashed through cuts and pay freezes.”

Originally published in the Morning Star