Tories’ planned changes to strike laws would “make legal strikes close to impossible”, say unions

12th May, 2015 1:38 pm

Five days into the first Tory majority government in 18 years and already we have a number policies on the table. Alongside proposals to scrap the Human Right Act and reducing the benefits cap from £26,000 to £23,000 we can now add plans to make “significant changes” to strike laws.


Sajid Javid, who was appointed Business Secretary yesterday as part of David Cameron’s reshuffle, has said that changes to strike laws will be part of the government’s Queen Speech.

Javid told the BBC’s Today programme that under new laws, strikes affecting health, transport, fire services or schools would have to be backed by 40% of union members and that there would have to be a minimum 50% turnout in ballots. The Tories attempted to make similar changes during the last government but were blocked from doing so by the Lib Dems.

As it stands, for a strike to be considered valid it has to be supported by the majority of people balloted.

Unions have criticised the government’s move as an attack on ‘democratic and legitimate rights’ and said that it if these proposals were implemented workers may have to go on illegal strikes.

The TUC’s General Secretary Frances O’Grady said these new laws would benefit the country’s “worst bosses” and that they would  “make legal strikes close to impossible”, adding “union negotiators will be left with no more power than Oliver Twist when he asked for more.”


Unite’s assistant general secretary, Steve Turner has also lambasted the government’s proposals:

“The divisive face of Conservatism has not taken long to reveal its face with the new business secretary Sajid Javid suggesting a 50 per cent turnout of all eligible union members voting for industrial action, instead of the straight majority now required.

“It is a terrible shame and a big mistake that one of the government’s first acts is to attempt to reduce rights for working people that even past Tory administrations have upheld.

“Voters did not put a tick in the box for this, especially as David Cameron has pledged that he wanted to reach out to all corners of Britain in the traditions of One Nation Conservatism.

“Many of the electors, who provided the Tories with their slim majority, are working people concerned about justice and fairness in the workplace.

“They won’t understand why this proposal is coming from a new administration with just 36.9 per cent of the vote to underpin its legitimacy.

“Unite urges Sajid Javid and his colleagues think long and hard about this move as there are better ways of improving the mechanisms for industrial action ballots, such as electronic voting and ballots at the workplace.

“We are open for constructive discussions with ministers on these issues.”

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