In a breakthrough for workers in all sectors (scarcely reported except by Tribune), the railway unions Aslef and RMT have won a massive victory in the High Court over strike ballots. London Midland and Serco took them to court over ballots that were overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, but contained a handful of minor technical discrepancies. After the unions appealed, the High Court ruled that the companies were merely intent on setting draconian ‘traps or hurdles’ for workers.
‘For the first time, the Court of Appeal recognises the right to strike in the context of Britain’s obligations under international law’. This is a pretty impressive breakthrough for the millions of trade unionists in the UK and all those who are fighting the coalition’s austerity – viz. attacks on jobs, services and pay & pension conditions.
Hutton’s report on pensions released yesterday, which the government has preempted, gives yet more weight behind the need for organised action. Most public sector employees are left to live on less than £5,000 a year. Hardly ‘gold-plated’. But the government’s plans are set at making people work longer for less – as clear a justification for industrial action as any.
Lecturers will be out on strike this Thursday against real-term pay cuts, and 2,000 teachers in Tower Hamlets have voted for strike action for the same reason shortly after the March 26 TUC demonstration. There is a real mood among students now to support these teachers and lecturers, unlike in previous years where strikes were seen as merely a day-off for young people.