Successive UK governments have been called on by international human rights bodies, such as the Council of Europe and the International Labour Organisation, to bring UK law at least up to the basic level required by various conventions the UK has ratified. (Conventions ratified by every other country in Europe, including those not in the EU, in the case of the European Convention on Human Rights).

In March 2010 the ILO Committee of Experts reiterated its view saying : “the Committee requests the [UK] Government to review the [law] and consider appropriate measures for the protection of workers and their organizations to engage in industrial action and to indicate the steps taken in this regard.”

Even the Canadian Supreme Court has adjudged that the exercise of collective rights “reaffirms the values of dignity, personal autonomy, equality and democracy”. It follows that the absence of effective rights in the UK diminishes those values.

Although BA’s injunction against Unite’s ballot fell, because the Court of Appeal accepted that the requirement to give notice of 11 spoilt ballot papers in the context of a ballot of some 12,500 entitled to vote was trivial in the extreme, UK law fails to reach the required standards. Restore union democracy and allow workers to stand up for themselves.

Why is this idea important?

Democracy shouldn’t cease to exist as we enter the workplace. Unions are a force for good in society and have been unfairly restricted by draconian laws rarely experienced in other, similar countries. By restoring the rights and freedoms of the trade union movement we will revitalise the efforts of working people to fight inequality and exploitation, both in the workplace and in wider society.

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