NEU condemns the Strike Bill at their Annual Conference in Harrogate

Bill would allow the Secretary of State to override a lawful democratic decision for strike action.

6 Apr 2023| News

The National Education Union (NEU), meeting at their Annual Conference in Harrogate, has this morning passed a motion condemning the Strike (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, which would allow the Secretary of State to override a lawful democratic decision for strike action.

Before any amendments, the motion read as follows:

Motion 45 Anti-trade union laws

Proposer: Northumberland

Seconder: City of Preston

Conference notes that:

1. The UK currently has the most restrictive trade union laws in Europe
2. The introduction of ballot thresholds in 2016 was designed to prevent unions from taking part in industrial action
3. The Government has already removed the ban on the use of agency workers to cover workers on strike
4. Political parties can elect leaders through online ballots but trade unions must do this through fully postal ballots
5. These attacks on trade unions are accompanied by further plans to weaken workers’ rights.
6. One effect of the cost-of-living crisis and increased union action is that interest in and support for trade unions is higher than it has been for a generation.

Conference condemns Tory Government plans to introduce further restrictions on trade unions and their rights to organise to defend our pay and working conditions, including:

i. Further tightening laws governing strike ballots
ii. Attacks on facility time.

Conference congratulates those unions such as the CWU, RMT, PCS and UCU who have overwhelmingly beaten Government-imposed ballot thresholds and taken strike action in furtherance of their disputes on pay and jobs.

Conference welcomes the steps the union has taken to ensure that we are in the best possible place to beat the thresholds in the ballot on pay.

Conference further congratulates all those school reps and local officers who have worked so hard to organise the ballot turnout in their district.

Conference instructs the executive to:

a. Work with other unions and the TUC to campaign for the removal of all anti trade union laws
b. Call on a future Labour government to repeal Tory anti-trade union laws
c. Work with other unions to lobby the Government and opposition parties to legalise the use of online ballots for union elections and strike ballots
d. Work with other unions and campaign groups to build the biggest possible alliance in support of workers’ rights – including mass demonstrations.

Commenting on the passing of Motion 45 at the Annual Conference of the National Education Union, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The UK’s trade union laws have often been described as the most restrictive in Europe, but the Strikes (Minimum Services Levels) Bill marks a step change further for education workers. The NEU condemns the Bill, which if enacted, would allow the Secretary of State to require teachers and support staff to work, overriding a lawful democratic decision for strike action.

The NEU is committed to working with other unions and others in calling for electronic balloting in union elections and ballots, repeal the anti-trade union laws, and to bring UK laws back into accordance with its international obligations.”