Freedom requires collective protection

There’s a very important post by Nigel on the TUC’s touchstone blog. The TUC Congress took a strong line against ID cards which the government intends to impose on airport workers before rolling them out to the rest of the population. The Convention’s support from across the political spectrum is a source of strength, according to Nigel, but it also raises problems:

“Unions know that merely having individual rights is not enough. You also need the means to enforce them, and for people without access to wealth and power that can usually only happen collectively. Freedom of association to be meaningful must also include the freedom to act collectively.

But on Britain’s right, hostility to trade unions is pretty endemic. There is cross-party consensus that the UK should remain in breach of significant parts of ILO conventions by limiting the right to strike. Indeed there is no right to strike in the UK, simply a set of prescribed circumstances where workers and unions cannot be pursued in the courts for breach of contract.

Everyone at the Modern Liberty Convention was doubtlessly against ID cards. But if any of the airport unions were to go on strike against them they would immediately face the seizure of their assets. I wonder how wide support for that went last weekend. ”

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