Free Our Unions: campaigning against the anti-union laws

With the election of a hard-right Tory government promising new restrictions on the right to strike, it is more urgent than ever that the entire labour movement unites to resist anti-union laws.

The Free Our Unions campaign was initiated by The Clarion and Lambeth Unison. It is now backed by dozens of unions branches, committees, and local Labour Parties, as well as four national trade unions – IWGB, FBU, PCS, and RMT. It was initially established to promote and amplify policies passed at Labour Party conferences calling for the abolition of all anti-union laws (not only the most recent), and to demand Labour fight for this policy in opposition and commit to enacting it in government. (For more background to the campaign, click here.)

The campaign now plans renewed campaigning against the Tories’ proposed new laws, and is calling for united and coordinated activity between existing campaign groups currently active on these issues.

Below on this page are collected regularly updated resources, articles and information about events and activities.

Free Our Unions website
Free Our Unions on Twitter
Free Our Unions on Facebook

Support the Free Our Unions statement

As of January 2020, we are circulating a new statement, calling for united opposition and resistance to the Tories’ plans for new restrictions on the right to strike. Click here for the text of the statement, and add your signature using this Google Form.

The original Free Our Unions statement was initiated by Lambeth Unison – see here for the text, a model motion to propose it to your branch with, and a list of signatories. For a supporting motion for Labour Parties, see here.

Sign and circulate the petition

There is also a petition individuals can sign online here – signed already by hundreds of Labour and union activists including Matt Wrack, John McDonnell, Ian Hodson and Claudia Webbe. For a downloadable/printable PDF version to use in meetings, at work, etc, see here.

Free Our Unions pamphlet

For more information about and to buy copies of our new pamphlet Free our unions: why Labour must repeal all the anti-union laws – a great resource for education and campaigning – see here.

Posters for photos of support

Here are posters you can download and print off/copy to do a photo opp in support at your branch meeting, etc. Or make your own, obviously!
Free our unions sign 1 Free our unions – Repeal all the anti-union laws
Free our unions sign 2 We need the right to strike – Repeal all the anti-union laws
Free our unions sign 3 Repeal all the anti-union laws
Free our unions sign 4 Free our unions
Free our unions sign 5 Labour conference is right: Repeal all the anti-union laws
Free our unions sign 6 Repeal all the anti-union laws – Thatcher’s, Major’s, Cameron’s

Articles, background, etc., about the anti-union laws


Blair’s trade union reform at 20 (published by Tribune, June 2020)
Free Our Unions video (Free Our Unions site, June 2020)
‘Refusing unsafe work, industrial action and the law: a briefing for workplace activists’ (Free Our Unions site, June 2020)
“Unions are back”? Let’s fight to free them! (Free Our Unions site, May 2020)
The birth of the Labour Party and the right to strike (May 2020, published on Workers’ Liberty)
“Workers’ rights under permanent lockdown”: the pandemic, key workers and the right to strike (May 2020)
May Day 2020 and fighting the anti-union laws: articles and resources (May 2020)
Clap for key workers? Try letting them stand up for themselves (May 2020, published in the Morning Star)
In the coronavirus crisis, do workers have the right to strike? (May 2020, published on the FBU’s blog)
The Labour Party and the anti-union laws (April 2020, in interview with Ben Selby)
This May Day, support workers’ action for rights and safety (April 2020, on the new Free Our Unions site)
Right now in the UK, strikes are effectively illegal (April 2020, published in Tribune)
The Covid-19 crisis and the anti-union laws (April 2020, in interview with Maria Exall)
The anti-union laws and unofficial strike action in the Covid-19 pandemic (April 2020, in interview with Matt Wrack)
Labour members support repealing all anti-union laws 5-1 (April 2020)
Martin Luther King on workers’ solidarity action (April 2020, republished from Firefighter, 2008)
Covid-19 crisis: Protect the right to strike! (March 2020)
Scrapping the anti-union laws: where do the leadership candidates stand? (March 2020)
RMT London Transport Region meeting on fighting anti-strike laws (February 2020)
Benefit gig for Free Our Unions – 3 March (February 2020)
“This is Labour’s absolute duty” – speech by Riccardo la Torre to Eastern Region Labour (February 2020)
FBU motion to Labour East Regional Conference 2020 (February 2020)
For a united front to resist anti-union laws (February 2020)
Trade union bloc on the 14 February climate strikes (January 2020)
Free Our Unions pledge for Labour leadership candidates (January 2020)
Hackney Central Labour Party motion against the anti-union laws (January 2020)
Sign this statement: resist the Tories’ new anti-strike law (January 2020)

Resist the Tories’ new anti-strike law! (December 2019)
Motion on trade union rights passed by Neurodivergent Labour AGM (December 2019)
Labour must fight to repeal all anti-strike laws (December 2019)
Labour’s manifesto, trade union law and workers’ self-activity – interview with Gregor Gall (December 2019)
Yes, we need to strike for each other (November 2019, published on Jacobin)
Labour’s manifesto and the right to strike: a welcome step forward, more to fight for (Free Our Unions statement) (November 2019)
Policy passed by Unite, Unison, FBU, RMT, GMB, IWGB, NEU, TUC and Labour (compiled September 2019, put up here November)
Royal Mail’s anti-strike injunction is an affront to democracy (November 2019)
Statement: We call for this policy to be included in the manifesto (October 2019)
TUC urges Labour to scrap all anti-union laws (September 2019, published on Personnel Today)
#freeourunions at Labour Party conference (September 2019)
What TUC Congress just called for goes much further than Labour’s proposals (September 2019)
“Workers need the right to strike for climate justice” (UKSCN-FOU joint statement) (September 2019)
Workers must fight Johnson’s right-wing coup (Statement from Free Our Unions) (September 2019)
Motion to TUC Congress 2019: “Free our unions – Repeal the anti-union laws” (August 2019)
Free Our Unions fringe meeting at TUC Congress 2019 (August 2019)
Finsbury Park and East Ham RMT branches reply to the Morning Star on the anti-union laws (August 2019)
For too long trade unions have been held back: we must set them free (August 2019, published in the Morning Star)
Against Thatcher’s anti-union laws: campaign, don’t snipe! (July 2019, published on Workers’ Liberty)
Yes, we want a bonfire of the anti-union laws! Free Our Unions reply to the Morning Star (July 2019)
“We need to change the balance of forces in this country” – Kevin Courtney on repealing the anti-union laws (July 2019, publishing speech from April)
The fight against climate catastrophe needs free trade unions (July 2019, published on Workers’ Liberty)
Trade union freedom motion to Unison Labour Link conference (July 2019)
How the Free Our Unions campaign has developed (June 2019)
Support Eastern FBU’s submission to Labour National Policy Forum (June 2019)
Fight to free our unions (June 2019, published in the FBU’s Firefighter magazine – for the PDF of the magazine, see here)
Free Our Unions motion to Unison national conference (June 2019)
GMB Congress calls for repeal of Thatcher anti-union laws (June 2019)
Disabled workers and the anti-union laws (June 2019)
Firefighters call for a Socialist Green New Deal (May 2019, includes important text on repealing anti-union laws)
Free Our Unions motions and fringe at FBU conference (May 2019)
Motion on anti-union laws to PCS annual delegate conference 2019 (April 2019)
NEU conference anti-union laws motion and fringe meeting (April 2019)
Lambeth Unison: “We restate our determination, and call on Corbyn’s leadership to make a clear commitment” (April 2019)
Motion on anti-union laws to CWU conference (April 2019)
Corbynism and the drought of workers’ struggles (April 2019)
‘Free Our Unions’ motion to RMT conference (April 2019)
FBU wins LRC to back ‘Free Our Unions’ campaign (April 2019, reporting on February 2019)
Statement: “We call for this policy to be included in the manifesto” (April 2019)
“Reclaim Our Rights” – a pamphlet by Bob Crow and John Hendy (April 2019)
Pizza and videos to free our unions (March 2019)
Honour Bob Crow: fight to repeal the anti-union laws! (March 2019)
CWU motion to London Labour conference 2019 (February 2019)
“We need fighting trade unions” – Matt Wrack on repealing anti-union laws (February 2019, publishing speech from September 2018)
“Our unions must free themselves from their chains” – speech by Justine Canady (January 2019)
Firefighters support Free Our Unions campaign (January 2019)


“We must ensure the next Labour government acts quickly and decisively” – West Mids FBU motion (December 2018)
Green Party backs call to free our unions (December 2018)
What’s in the Institute of Employment Rights manifestos and what does Labour say about them? (November 2018)
Angela Rayner was right about the anti-union laws (November 2018, republishing extracts of a speech from 2014)
Free our unions – model motion for CLPs (November 2018)
Statement: Join Matt Wrack, Ian Hodson, John McDonnell and Claudia Webbe in demanding repeal of all anti-union laws (November 2018)
“We will not be bullied” – Glasgow workers defy council’s threat of anti-union laws (October 2018)
Women’s strike shakes Glasgow, male workers take solidarity action (October 2018)
Labour conference commits to “abolishing anti-union laws” (again) (September 2018)
Sean Hoyle’s foreword to our ‘Free our unions’ pamphlet (September 2018)
Scottish FBU’s Denise Christie: Respect Labour conference policy on union rights! (speech at Labour Party conference, September 2018)
Labour must vow to scrap all anti-union laws – beyond the Trade Union Act 2016 (September 2018, published on LabourList)
Labour must get the anti-union laws off workers’ backs! (September 2018)
Repeal the anti-union laws! Labour conference fringe, with Matt Wrack (September 2018)
John McDonnell’s TUC speech and the right to strike (September 2018)
Unite conference demands repeal of all anti-union laws (August 2018)
For free trade unions (motion for Labour Parties) (August 2018)
IWGB supports call to repeal anti-union laws, establish strong right to strike (July 2018)
Arguing for the right to strike (June 2018)
Trade union rights – back John McDonnell’s call (June 2018)
Would the miners’ strike have been illegal under Corbyn’s trade union laws? (June 2018)
‘A Corbyn government must free our unions’ – motion to Unite policy conference (June 2018)
Matt Wrack and Shen Batmaz on why Labour must repeal all anti-union laws (May 2018)
Young Labour policy on repealing the anti-union laws/the right to strike (passed October 2017, published here March 2018)
Six arguments against abolishing all the anti-union laws – Six replies (March 2018)
The anti-union laws: acid test for a Corbyn government (January 2018)
If Jeremy Corbyn wants a mass movement, he must radically revive the unions (January 2018, published in the New Statesman)


Repealing the anti-union laws: what Labour’s new policy says (December 2017)
Bob Crow and John Hendy on why we must repeal the anti-union laws (December 2017, republished from 1998)
Labour votes to scrap all anti-union laws – build a campaign! (November 2017)
“Young workers turned up for us – we must turn up for them” (speech at Labour Party conference, September 2017)
Tamworth CLP submits conference resolution on McDonald’s strike and union rights (September 2017)
Solidarity strikes and Labour democracy (April 2017)
What are the anti-union laws? Institute of Employment Rights timeline, 1979-2017 (2017) – for a briefer summary see also the section on ‘What are the anti-union laws?’ here

Speakers and events

We are now speaking at many union branches, committees, reps training events, etc, as well as Labour Parties. To let us know if you want to organise an event or to invite a speaker to your meeting drop us an email:

• 1906 / 1997: the Labour Party and the right to strike. Historical discussion with implications for today, organised by Workers’ Liberty. Sunday 5 July 2020, 6.30pm. On Zoom. More info soon. Facebook event here. Speakers: Maria Exall, Labour Unions Vice-Chair and CWU activist; Sacha Ismail, Workers’ Liberty and Free Our Unions activist.
• Workers’ action in the pandemic: organising against and around the anti-union laws. Online Free Our Unions forum. Wednesday 24 June 2020, 6.30pm. More information here. Log in via Zoom here. Facebook event here. Speakers: Alex Marshall, TDL courier and chair of the IWGB Couriers and Logistics Branch; Gregor Gall, industrial relations professor and labour movement activist; more tbc including school workers and NEU activists. Chair: Riccardo la Torre, firefighter and FBU National Officer

Previous events:

• Free Our Unions campaign planning meeting, Wednesday 8 January – 7pm, Lambeth Unison offices, First floor, Blue Star House, 244-234 Stockwell Rd, London SW9 9SP. Facebook event
• Free Our Unions fringe meeting at TUC Congress 2019. Tuesday 10 September – 5.45pm, The Restaurant, Brighton Centre. Speakers: Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary; Jo Grady, UCU General Secretary; Ruth Cashman, Lambeth Unison Secretary and Free Our Unions campaign; Colin Willoughby, outsourced striking worker/PCS activist at BEIS; Frances Fox, climate striker and UKSCN. Chair: Michelle Rodgers, RMT President.
Free Our Unions public meeting, organised by Lewisham Trades Council and Lewisham NEU. Tuesday 10 September – 7.30pm, New Cross Learning, 283 New Cross Road, Lodnon SE14 6AS. Speakers: Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, Vicky Foxcroft MP, Cameron Matthews (Fire Brigades Union Black & Ethnic Minorities national chair), Duncan Morrison (Lewisham NEU Assistant Secretary), Rebecca Lawrence (Lewisham Deptford CLP Chair). Eventbrite. Facebook event (postponed due to Labour Party trigger ballots)
• The 20th September climate strike and the fight to free our unions – discussion organised by Free Our Unions and UK Student Climate Network. Thursday 25 July – 6.30pm, Global Justice Now offices, 66 Offley Road, Oval, London SW9 0LS. Speakers include Riccardo la Torre (FBU) and Abel Harvie-Clark (UKSCN). Facebook event
• Free Our Unions campaign organising meeting. Thursday 18 July – 7pm, CWU Greater London Combined branch office, Colombo House, Joan Street, SE1 (Southwark Tube). Facebook event
• Support the BEIS workers! Repeal the anti-union laws! Joint demo between Free Our Unions and the outsourced strikers (PCS members) at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Tuesday 21 May – 8.30-10am, BEIS office, 1 Victoria Street, SW1H 0ET. Facebook event
• Meeting sponsored by Exeter UCU. Thursday 16 May. More details soon.
• Nae Pasaran: workers’ action, internationalism and anti-union laws. Clarion/Free Our Unions film showing and discussion, raising money for the Deliveroo workers’ strike fund. Thursday 2 May – 7pm, The Bread and Roses @ The Chapel, 308-312 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP. Eventbrite. Facebook event
• Free Our Unions fringe meeting at National Education Union conference. Wednesday 17 April – 6.30pm, The Liverpool, 14 James Street, Liverpool L2 7PQ. Organised by a range of NEU local associations. Speakers: Kevin Courtney, Joint NEU General Secretary; Mark Rowe, Secretary North West FBU; Kirstie Paton, NEU rep at John Roan School (striking against academisation) and NEU National Executive; a Merseyrail driver; Patrick Murphy Leeds NEU District Secretary and NEU National Executive. Facebook event
• Pizza and videos (Free our unions!) – Friday 29 March, 7-10.30pm, Lambeth Unison offices, Blue Star House, 244 Stockwell Road, Brixton, London SW9 9SP. Evening of making videos about the anti-union laws, with drinks and free pizza. Speeches from Riccardo La Torre and Cameron Matthews, FBU. Facebook event
• Free Our Unions – Meeting in Walsall, organised by West Midlands FBU. Thursday 28 February – 7pm, venue tbc. Speakers include FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack, Derby North MP Chris Williamson, Walsall North PPC Gill Ogilvie. Facebook event
• Free Our Unions – seconding organising meeting. 7pm, Wednesday 30 January, Brixton (Lambeth Unison office, Blue Star House, 244 Stockwell Road, SW9 9SP). Facebook event
• Free our unions – Repeal the anti-union laws! Organised by Cambridge UCU. 6-8pm, Tuesday 4 December, Friends Meeting House, 12 Jesus Lane, Cambridge CB5 8BA. Speakers include Clarion editor Rida Vaquas and a McStriker. Facebook event
• Repeal the anti-union laws – organising meeting, with Matt Wrack – 7pm, Tuesday 20 November, Brixton (Lambeth Unison office, Blue Star House, 244 Stockwell Road, SW9 9SP). Hosted by The Clarion and Lambeth Unison. Facebook event
• Free our unions – repeal the anti-union laws! (Croydon) – 7pm, Tuesday 13 November, Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Rd, Croydon CR0 1BD. Facebook event
• Free our unions pamphlet launch (Sheffield) – 7pm, Tuesday 30 October, Central United Reformed Church, 60 Norfolk Street, Sheffield S1 2JB. Facebook event
• Free our unions – why Labour must repeal the anti-union laws (Manchester) – 7pm, Monday 22 October, Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St, Manchester M2 5NS. Facebook event
• Repeal the anti-union laws! Fringe meeting at Labour Party conference 2018, with Matt Wrack – 7pm, Sunday 23 September, The Liverpool, 14 James Street, L2 7PQ. More information here