Studying the development of trade union laws and the right to strike


With the London bus strike taking place today and the announcement over the weekend that the Conservative Party plans to include further anti-strike reforms in its 2015 General Election manifesto, the issue of the right to strike in key public services is back on the national agenda. The proposals have provoked much debate, with some generally supportive while others have argued that the union laws don’t need changing.

The TUC Library is one of the best research collections in the country to study the historical development of trade union laws and the right to strike.

As this item from 1958 on our website shows, there have been similar London bus strikes in the past over the issue of differing wage rates :

Leaflet relating to the 1958 London bus strike, produced by the Transport and General Workers Union (now Unite).

The trade union law covering the right to strike has also been reformed dramatically in the post-war period. Introductions to the major changes appear on our history websites here and here, and the Institute for Employment Rights have also produced a useful summary of the main legislation.

The TUC Library contains material that documents many of debates surrounding the main legislative changes, ranging from the 1971 Industrial Relations Act:

To the legislation in the 1980s and specific events such as the campaign for union recognition at GCHQ:




For more information contact us at or phone 020 7133 3726 or visit us.


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