For the second day in a row, officers from the Met threatened to arrest all those participating in a United Voices of the World (UVW) strike picket outside St. George’s University Hospital in Tooting. Citing s119 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, Met officers claimed that the picket was an illegal nuisance on NHS property, and that all those taking part in the action were liable for arrest.
When it was pointed out – by both UVW’s in-house barrister and a legal observer present at the scene – that the picket was neither a nuisance nor “without reasonable excuse” (as the law requires) the cops relented, with the senior officer present admitting that he did not even understand the concept of ‘reasonable excuse’. The picket could continue, they said, so long as the strikers refrained from playing amplified music (much to the visible chagrin of on-looking management).
This was the second consecutive day of strike action taken by security staff at St. George’s, who are fighting for an end to outsourcing, as well as better terms and conditions. On both days, management called in the police to break up the strike, as well as using scab security guards to intimidate striking workers and union organisers.
When, on Monday, the police were challenged on the legality of their actions, they responded by arresting UVW’s head of legal, barrister Franck Magennis (of Garden Court Chambers). Unsurprisingly, the arrest came to naught and Magennis has already initiated legal action against the Met.
These events are just the latest sign that, emboldened by the hardline rhetoric of Johnson and Patel, the police are clamping down on all forms of dissent, with little to no consideration for people’s legally enshrined rights. If this is to be resisted, radicals of all stripes could do much worse than follow the UVW’s example: refuse to be intimidated, keep fighting until we win.
Photo Credit: UVW