Our Laws & Courts Are Stacked Against Workers
On 13th November, the High Court granted an injunction to Royal Mail to prevent CWU members from taking strike action, after they had overwhelmingly voted to do so with a 97% yes vote on a 76% turnout in October. There has rarely been a clearer demonstration of how Britain’s laws and courts are rigged in favour of bosses and against ordinary workers standing up for themselves.
The campaign the union ran has received plaudits across the movement and I am proud of the way tens of thousands of members were engaged in this. Thousands of gate meetings were held across the country where our members gathered to discuss the issues and how the Royal Mail board was turning its back on hundreds of years of public service and putting their jobs at risk. We stood tall against senior management, the right-wing press and the doubters. And we delivered something that clearly sent shockwaves across the establishment.
The fact that over 80,000 workers could be overturned by a single judge sat in central London, underlines the rigged system that we find ourselves up against.
Since the introduction of the Tory anti-trade union laws in 2016, there has not been a national strike on a significant scale. That is no accident. The laws have been ideologically designed to ensure that workers are ‘kept in their place’. As I told the media outside of the High Court, it is time for workers everywhere to wake up and recognise that the government has deliberately stacked the rules against workers and in favour of the constituency that they were born to serve – which is big business and the establishment.
In this upcoming general election, we have the opportunity to support a Labour Party which will abolish these draconian laws. There is no doubt in my mind that Labour is promising the single most ambitious programme to shift the balance of forces in the world of work: to grow trade unions, to enhance collective and individual employment rights, and to end the race to the bottom.
Labour’s pledge to repeal this Tory attack on the trade union movement is one thing, but their manifesto goes further. Whether it be giving people the ability to organise and recruit their co-workers (with new trade union access rights), or strengthening the protection of union representatives against unfair dismissal, Labour has a thought-out plan that goes beyond simply repealing the anti-trade union laws.
Though we have a real fight ahead of us, the size of the CWU’s yes vote should offer encouragement to the wider labour movement. Workers are ready to stand tall and fight back against exploitative bosses and those who want to line the pockets of the billionaire class.
But they are currently shackled. And the only way that we will release workers from those shackles is by electing a radical Labour government which promises to tip the balance of forces away from bosses and in favour of working people.
By Dave Ward, General Secretary of CWU.