Workers Defend Right To Strike

Workers around the world are today taking action in defence of the right to strike, which is under attack by employer groups at the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) is joining the ITUC, PSI and other Global Union Federations in calling for unions to act to make sure our voices are heard ahead of the opening of the meeting of the ILO governing body on 12 March 2015.

"The right to strike, to withdraw ones labour in protection of economic and industrial access and respect in the workplace, is essential to decent and sustainable lives of all workers,” ITF president Paddy Crumlin said.

"It is one of our most basic labour rights underpinned by fundamental civil and human rights.

"The working women and men that rely on this freedom will fight with determination and persistence against the denial of this access to equity and justice through their trade unions and with the wider support of genuinely democratic and supportive political ,community , economic and socially progressive organisations and individuals.”

ITF unions exercising the right to industrial action are routinely met with repressive measures ranging from sackings, detentions and arrests to violence and even murder.

The ITUC’s Global Rights Index shows that the right to strike is frequently restricted in law and violated in practice around the world.

Right now, the ILO’s mechanisms are under fire.

The ILO is made up of three groups – employers, workers and governments.

The employers’ group has challenged the very existence of the right to strike established under ILO Convention 87.

The workers’ group is responding by asking for an opinion from the International Court of Justice on the right to strike in international law.

This key decision on this referral was due be made at ILO Governing Body in November. Instead, the Govening Body asked for further tripartite discussions on the right to strike, to be reported to its meeting in March for decision then.

Chair of the workers' group Luc Cortebeeck said: “Either we recognise the right to strike established under Convention 87, or we refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice."

Here’s what you can do in the lead-up to the ILO Governing Body meeting which starts 12 March:

  • Organise social media actions - using the hashtag #right2strike. Watch out for visuals which we will send out for sharing, posting and retweeting.
  • Hold workplace meetings
  • Hold public meetings with leaders from government, judiciary and human rights groups;
  • Lobby governments and parliamentary representatives
  • Organise public demonstrations
  • Protest outside government offices where governments oppose the right to strike (or referral to the rule of law through the ICJ)
  • Protest against employers’ organisations
  • Request especially urgent discussions with governments and employers if they sit on the ILO Governing Body
  • Send a letter to your Government