Home > News > Len McCluskey calls for “civil disobedience” – but how far can we go?
Len McCluskey calls for “civil disobedience” – but how far can we go?
Len McCluskey speaking at the IER's TUC Fringe Meeting 2012
17 January 2013
Speaking to Sky News' Murnaghan programme on Sunday (13 January 2013), Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey called for "civil disobedience", but how far can we go in our protests against government cuts?
17 Jan 2013| News
Len McCluskey speaking at the IER’s TUC Fringe Meeting 2012
17 January 2013
Speaking to Sky News’ Murnaghan programme on Sunday (13 January 2013), Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey called for “civil disobedience”, but how far can we go in our protests against government cuts?
This has been one of the key questions on the lips of trade unionists the country over, as calls for a general strike pick up momentum. Such action is not protected by UK law, in which workers have no right to strike, but legal experts at the forefront of the labour movement John Hendy QC, Chair of the IER, and Keith Ewing, President of the IER, have taken this challenge on board and provided detailed information to the labour movement on what legal protection they do have if they decide to stage a mass protest.
Hendy and Ewing’s arguments are laid out in the publication Days of Action, which has unsurprisingly been flying off the shelves since a motion was passed at TUC Congress in 2012 to consider the practicalities of a general strike.
We attended Congress, which was held in September, where we hosted a packed fringe meeting under the name Days of Action, Protesting Against Austerity, featuring McCluskey, Hendy and Ewing as speakers. The subject was whether workers could legally stage a general strike in the UK and the answer – according to Hendy and Ewing – is yes. Such protests may not be supported by UK labour law, but they are by the European Convention of Human Rights.
John Hendy QC
“The reality is that this government’s policies are taking us on a path to poverty and we want to make certain that we give people confidence throughout our nations to be able to stand up and resist,” McCluskey told Sky News’ Murnaghan.
“Ordinary working people, who feel battered at the moment, attacked from all sides by this government, should have the bravery and the courage to stand together. This is no time for us, and certainly no time for trade union leaders, to be cowering in the corner,” he added.
To find out more about the legal basis for a general strike, watch the video below of John Hendy’s interview with Union News at the 2012 TUC Congress.
Hard copies of Days of Action have now sold out, but subscribers can gain access to an electronic copy of the book here. Yearly subscription starts at just £25 and is highly recommended to trade unionists, academics, solicitors and others who involved in the labour movement. Subscribe here