Stop the Met Police's criminalisation of strikes

by United Voices of the World

Stop the Met Police's criminalisation of strikes

by United Voices of the World
United Voices of the World
Case Owner
UVW is a members-led, campaigning trade union of migrant & precarious workers.
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United Voices of the World
Case Owner
UVW is a members-led, campaigning trade union of migrant & precarious workers.
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This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

On the 13th of January 2020, barrister and trade union official Franck Magennis was unlawfully arrested by the Metropolitan Police. He was attending a lawful picket in support of striking security guards at St. George’s, University of London (SGUL).

At the time of the arrest, the lawyer from Garden Court Chambers was working as Head of Legal for United Voices of the World (UVW), the trade union representing the workers. Police had attended and were threatening the striking workers and union officials with mass arrest under Section 119 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. While in mid-conversation with a police officer as he enquired into the legality of the threatened arrests, Franck was arrested and handcuffed. Intimidated by Franck’s arrest, the other workers immediately left the picket line, which fell apart as a consequence.

The arrest marks another chilling episode in a series of attacks by the Metropolitan Police on trade unionists. In January a Crown Court Judge directed a Southwark jury to acquit trade unionist James Farrar, after he was accused of assault on two police officers’ ears for speaking through a standard issue megaphone during a demonstration.

Workers have a legal and human right to take industrial action. The practical ability to stop working to apply pressure to an employer is a vital foundation of any functioning society. This case raises wider issues that should concern anyone committed to a worker’s right to form an effective picket line, and a citizen’s right not to face arbitrary arrest and threats of criminal prosecution.

Speaking on behalf of her client, Susie Labinjoh, of Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors said:

“Magennis’s arrest clearly raises important constitutional issues. We will be looking at all legal avenues to ensure that the police are held to account, that trade union members are not criminalised for going on strike, and that people are not arbitrarily arrested. The police must respect and uphold union members’ right to protest.”

Franck Magennis said:

“This case is more important now than ever, as our society attempts to erode the lawful right to strike. The police have been emboldened by the anti-worker rhetoric of Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, who think they can act with impunity, putting workers’ rights and civil liberties at risk. By supporting our crowd funder, and standing up against my unlawful arrest, we send a message that this will not be tolerated. It is up to everyone to protect workers’ right to strike.”

How much are we raising and why?

We are not raising funds for our own legal representation. We are raising funds to cover the costs of disbursements and the risk of paying the Metropolitan Police Service’s legal costs if we lose the claim.  If the matter goes to trial, costs could be crippling. If our claim is successful, the money raised will go into the UVW strike fund, where it will boost our industrial action even further. All compensation secured through our claim will also go into the strike fund.

Our initial target of £5,000 will cover the costs of disbursements when commencing the legal action. If we can hit this target, we’ll know we have the support to take the claim to trial if need be.

Our stretch target is £30,000 which will cover the costs risk if the case were to go to trial.

Any leftover funds go to the UVW strike fund to support workers in struggle.

Help us hold the Metropolitan Police to account

Franck’s arrest shows that some police officers clearly believe they can act with impunity and in a manner that violates workers’ rights and civil liberties.

Help us in sending an important message to the police: we won’t let workers and trade unions be silenced, and we won’t be intimidated away from the picket line. Any help is massively appreciated and we thank you for your support.

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