Model motion: Defy the anti-trade union laws

Within the current legal framework, workers’ right to strike in Britain has been all but annulled. This situation must be reversed by means of collective action.

Proletarian writers

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The policing of and media approach to the 1984/5 miners’ strike showed how seriously Britain’s capitalist class takes the class war. Until workers do likewise, they are doomed to keep sinking lower and lower into poverty and despair.

Proletarian writers

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This model motion for use by trade unionists and others is included in our upcoming pamphlet Manifesto for the Crisis, which will be available to buy soon in the party bookshop.


This [conference]* notes that, since the defeat of the heroic 1984/5 miners’ strike, several rounds of anti-trade union legislation have been enacted in Britain, whose cumulative effect and specific aim has been to erode workers’ ability to defend their pay, pensions and conditions of work to the point of non-existence.

Conference further notes that the right to withdraw their labour is the only real right that working-class people possess within the conditions of the capitalist economic system. Britain’s anti-union laws, while officially leaving the ‘right’ to strike intact, have in reality created a situation in which it is impossible for workers’ collective action to be successful.

Conference notes that while campaigns officially exist whose stated aim is to overturn these laws, these have to date been entirely ineffective. History shows that the only way to have unjust anti-worker laws overturned is via mass non-cooperation. If workers make the laws unworkable (as they did with the poll tax in 1990), the government will be left with no choice but to rescind them.

This conference believes that it was a serious mistake for trade unionists ever to accept the situation in which the capitalist class granted itself the right to oversee the running of working-class organisations. Our accounts, our rule books and our elections are our own business and no one else’s.

Conference concludes that in order to exercise our right to take action in defence of pay and conditions, our only option is to defy en masse the laws that stop us from being successful, whether these are laws prohibiting mass walkouts and secondary actions or laws stipulating state supervision of ballots and notice to employers. Every one of these laws is an attack on the rights of working-class people, and must be abolished by means of workers’ collective action.

Conference resolves that from now on our reps and officials will run disputes in whichever way their members believe will be most effective.

Conference further resolves that reps and officials who continue to use anti-union legislation as an excuse for failing to represent the interests and follow the instructions of their members must be removed and replaced immediately.


* Change as required: eg, branch, meeting, union, etc.