Monday 7 January 2008

Defend the Prison Officers' right to strike

If anyone still had any illusions that Gordon Brown was more union-friendly than Bliar, surely the news that the government proposes to ban Prison Officers taking strike action will dispel them.

The irony of the recent Prison Officers Association (POA) strike was that it was conducted as a wildcat strike, causing more disruption, precisely because they believed that going through all the legal hoops would have given the government time to ban the action altogether. And as with most unofficial action, the POA walkout did not lead to the union having its funds sequestrated or the sky falling in. If action is united, determined and successful, employers are generally reluctant to use the law for fear of escalating the dispute.

The news makes a Manchester "Organising For Fighting Unions" day school I'm helping organise for 26th January look even more interesting. The opening session is on Trade Union Freedom and the Right To Strike, and will be addressed by Brian Caton (the POA General Secretary) and Jane Loftus (Liverpool postal worker and CWU President). You can get a leaflet here.

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