From the TUC

Breaking the law? Today’s peaceful #NHSstrike pickets could be illegal by next year

24 Nov 2014, By

NHS workers are taking strike action across the country today, in protest at six years of pay freezes and the growing funding crisis in the health services they work to sustain.

Peaceful pickets are out in force, with striking workers taking the message to the public by standing in front of their workplaces, and by most accounts they’re getting good support from passers by.

But under new policy proposals from David Cameron, these people could all be breaking the law.

The Conservative party will be fighting the next election on a platform of harsh restrictions on trade union activity.

They also want to make the Code of Practice on Picketing legally binding and to make illegal picketing a criminal offence – effectively limiting how picketing can take place. Currently the code of practice suggests peaceful pickets should be limited to 6 people.

That’s right – simply attending a peaceful protest under a new Conservative government could result in you committing a criminal act and getting arrested for it.

Surveillance of picketing activists would also increase, with union organisers required to give their names and mobile phone numbers to their employer. And being able to take legal strike action in the first place would become much harder, with unfair turnout limits in ballots, and greater potential for employers to ban actions through the courts.

These are draconian moves aimed at sweeping public protest under the carpet – something we’d expect to hear happening under a dictatorship, not in a country with a proud history of democracy like the UK.

Are you on a picket line today? Tweet a picture on #NHSstrike to let David Cameron know how many people are breaking his proposed laws today by exercising their right to freedom of speech.

And if you’re passing a picket line today, make sure you give them a toot or go over to tell them you support them – not only will it make a big difference to them in their fight for fair pay and a properly funded health service, but if David Cameron has his way, it could be your last chance!

Here are some more people who could be criminals come next May – Good luck to all of them in today’s action: