What is the difference between work and slavery?

the three GMB workers arrested on their picket lines
  1. Freedom of association – that is, the right to organise. The right to join a union.

2. Freedom to withdraw your labour – that is, the right to strike, and

3. An administration that treats the unemployed with respect, and provides for their basic needs.

We have already lost the last one – the DWP is widely experienced as a bullying, obstructive organisation.

The first is very wobbly. Casual and insecure workers are, to their enormous credit, finding ways to organise – shout out in particular to Unite, the Bakers’ Union and the RMT, who have led the way in assisting insecure workers to join and take action – but it’s not easy, and it needs defending daily.

Today, I saw the latest evidence that the second is also under threat.

I went to the Magistrates’ Court, to join those gathering to support the GMB refuse workers who were arrested on their picket lines.

Justin Bowden, GMB

Justin Bowden of the GMB told us that the refuse workers, many of whom had been working for less than £10 per hour, and had worked through COVID without questioning the difficulties and dangers involved (essential workers understand what ‘essential’ means) and had then organised and balloted in accordance with the law, and took action for better pay and conditions.

The strike was conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner, and the refuse workers won their claim but, part way through the action, as the bosses and the politicians began to see the scale of our national #DemandBetter fightback against the Cost-of-Living Crisis, the mood changed, and the police began arresting workers off the picket lines.

  Today was the first of the hearings resulting from that. There will be another announced, somewhere down the line. Please come and support the right to strike because, if we lose that, this will be a country of slaves.

You don’t have to be in a union to join in #DemandBetter – anyone can join – read about it here…

Click to see some of the groups who joined #DemandBetter in my town

…but if you are able to join a union, please do so – you’ll make the movement stronger, and yourself safer.

Leah Levane treated the Magistrates Court to a cheery morning chorus

The politicians and the bosses aren’t too bothered about the Cost of Living Crisis. We have to push them to take action. Talk to your colleagues, your friends, your neighbours and if you haven’t started already, decide how to #DemandBetter in your town.


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