Shocking as it is, there is no legal right to strike (withdraw one’s labour) in UK law. However, it is a fundamental human right under Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This was confirmed in a case brought by a Russian worker who was dismissed for taking strike action.
The European Court of Human Rights once again confirmed that the right to strike falls under the protection of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights as an important aspect of the right to freedom of association. It considered the right to strike as being an indispensable corollary of the freedom of association.
Under UK law workers and employers are considered to have equal weight in the negotiating process. This is clearly a convenient fallacy which is demonstrated most recently by the actions of the current Conservative Government and its anti-strike legislation.
Trade unions on announcement of industrial action work with employers to ensure that minimum staffing levels and derogations are organised and implemented before any action occurs.
It is not industrial action or trade unions that have caused the severe workforce crisis in the NHS. It is the lack of Government funding and workforce planning. In not dealing with NHS pay the government is actively driving more and more NHS professionals out at a time when recruitment and retention are essential to ensuring safe staffing levels.
Trade unions were formed as a counterbalance to the unrecognised inequality in negotiations and by introducing collective bargaining trade unions bring workers together to redress the obvious unfairness of the balance of power between employers and employees.
The Society of Radiographers, as a TUC affiliated trade union with a 100 year history of defending members rights, supports the TUC Right to Strike Day and encourages all members and their families to attend local activities.
Trade unions and the right to strike are the only defence against exploitation – Join a trade union now and protect the rights fought for by generations of working people.
To learn more information on 'protect the right to strike' day, please see the TUC website.