Protect the right to strike

Reading time: 4 min

Trade unions are once again under Tory attack from this government. One in five workers is losing their right to strike.  Repressive minimum service levels (MSLs) are being imposed to force unions to ‘police’ their own strikes and even cross picket lines. 

How is this happening? In 2023, the government’s repressive Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act was forced through parliament.

Now, draconian restrictions have been introduced for ambulance services in England, and for border security and rail workers in England, Wales and Scotland. If workers take strike action in these three sectors they could be forced back to work – and subsequently sacked, if they don’t comply.

This means, for example, that our members in the NHS England who have been standing up to save the service, defend safe staffing and deliver fair pay will now be required to break their own strikes, or lose their jobs. An attack on one worker’s right to strike, is an attack on all.

Unite will take a stand

Sadly this is not the first time a Tory government has tried to ban trade union membership. Forty years ago, on January 27, 1984, Margaret Thatcher’s government banned union membership at it’s communications centre, GCHQ, in Cheltenham. Members had to make an invidious choice between their job or their union. A choice no one should ever have to make.

But there were those brave members who did. It took 13 years of long, hard campaigning and the election of a Labour government to restore trade union rights at GCHQ.

Getting to Cheltenham

Unite is resisting this latest government move to ban trade union rights and will be joining the TUC protest in Cheltenham this January 27. And you can join the protest too.

If you are a Unite member transport is free for Unite membersBook your seat now here

Or email your region directly. Contact your region to book your seat now. Please include your Unite membership number, full name and contact number in your email. Members can find regional email addresses here.

The fight back is on!

Our movement stood together then to defeat this assault on our solidarity and won.  We are now called upon to do so again.

And as the UK’s leading fighting back union, the union that has restored over £400m to members in wage increases during a punishing cost of living crisis, Unite will be a force to be reckoned with at this year’s national demonstration and rally.

We must resist. As Unite general secretary Sharon Graham says,

“This government has declared a war on workers.  But we will never allow them to force workers to cross a picket line, to break their own strikes, to defeat their own resolve.

“Unite will resist.  We will do what it says on the trade union tin.  We will stand together.” 


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By Amanda Campbell