The right to join a trade union, and the right to strike, are as fundamental as free speech. If you don't have them, you're not an employee but a serf, and a society that outlaws strikes isn't free.  Where individual bargaining power is weak – perhaps because the employer is a quasi-monopoly purchaser of an employee's particular skill, collective bargaining power is all that employees have.

Yet the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 makes strikes, in effect, illegal.

Why is this idea important?

Elsewhere in Your Freedom, contributors complain about “ambulance chasing” lawyers.  The impossibly tight restrictions placed on trade unions prior to calling industrial action mean that employers can sit back and wait for the slightest transgression before taking out an injunction.  Meanwhile there are lawyers waiting to take instructions (and the trade unions’ money).

Contrary to popular belief, the only right that trade unions enjoy in industrial conflict is immunity from prosecution – they cannot be sued for the employer’s loss provided the strike is brought in accordance with certain conditions.  These conditions have been made so difficult by TULRA that it has become virtually impossible to exercise the fundamental right to withdraw one’s labour.

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