The Morning Star newspaper, published in Britain, was founded in 1930 as the Daily Worker. It is the British counterpart to People’s World. Last week, staff at the paper staged a one-day political strike to show their opposition to the new Trade Union Act, passed into law by David Cameron’s Conservative Government. Among other things, the law aims to make it harder for public sector workers to take industrial action by raising minimum vote threshold requirements. It also represents an attempt to cripple the financial links between trade unions and the Labour Party, by requiring union members to “opt-in” before any portion of their dues can be used for political purposes. Furthermore, it attempts to squeeze the amount of time that public sector employees can spend doing union-related activities while on the job. Reprinted below is the press release from the journalists and staff at Morning Star.
Workers at the Morning Star newspaper staged an unofficial strike on Friday May 13 in open defiance of the Tory government’s Trade Union Act.
The brief walkout – taken after a workplace ballot this morning and coinciding with the 90th anniversary of the end of the 1926 General Strike – was a solely political strike to show the National Union of Journalists and Unite chapels’ opposition to the new Act.
James Rodie, father [shop steward] of the NUJ chapel [union local] at the paper, said: “Nine days ago the biggest attack on workers’ rights in a generation got the nod from the Queen and passed into law.
“While elements of the Act were watered down, it remains at heart a rotten assault on British democracy, seeking to take away workers’ ability to defend themselves against further attacks on their living standards and wages and the continued fragmentation and sell-off of the public sector.
“It may have escaped her majesty’s notice that she gave her assent to the Act 90 years to the day after one of the biggest episodes in the history of the British labour movement. Nine days on, as we mark the end of the General Strike and temporary defeat on the Trade Union Act we can’t allow our movement again to fall into despair but steel ourselves for this vital struggle ahead.
“We know that our small act of defiance today will hardly shake the government or force it to jettison its Act, but we want to send a clear message to the wider trade union movement that wherever workers are forced to break the law, we at the Morning Star will stand full-square behind them.”
Messages of support were received from across the labour movement.
Ian Lavery, Labour Party shadow minister for trade unions, sent his “support and solidarity” to the pickets.
He said: “The Trade Union Act is an absolutely unnecessary attack on the democratic rights of workers. It is further evidence, as if it were needed, of the utter contempt this government have for ordinary working people.”
Speaking from the Fire Brigades Union annual conference in Blackpool, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “I stand with the journalists and other staff at the Morning Star in this gesture of defiance against the Trade Union Act.
“The Act represents a savage attack on working people and their rights, and will inevitably lead workers to come into conflict with the law.”
Photo: Staff of the Morning Star picket in London outside William Rust House, headquarters of the newspaper, on Friday May 13, 2016. | National Union of Journalists