Britain: Tories Plan New Anti-Strike Laws For 2015 Election

Tories plan new anti-strike laws for 2015 election (Telegraph, June 15, 2014):

Sweeping measures being considered for inclusion in next year’s Tory manifesto would put an end to rolling strike campaigns by forcing union bosses to re-ballot their members every three months

The Conservatives are drawing up radical anti-strike laws to stop trade unions bringing Britain to a standstill with industrial action.

Under existing laws union leaders can call their members out on strike until a dispute is resolved to their satisfaction, with repeated waves of industrial action over issues such as pay or pensions continuing for months or years.

However, sweeping measures which are being considered for inclusion in the Tory manifesto for next year’s election would force union bosses to re-ballot their members as often as every three months, putting an end to rolling strike campaigns.

A Cabinet source said: “We need to look at this quaint rule which means that unions can hold endless strikes as long as their first walkout comes within 28 days of members backing action.”

Changing the law so that a ballot in favour of industrial action elapses after three or six months would give union general secretaries a greater incentive to reach a deal.

“It would also force the unions to go back to their members and re-ballot if they wanted to continue with strikes, rather than letting them roll on forever,” the source said.

The Conservatives are also considering a law to set a minimum turn-out requirement in any ballot before industrial action could take place.

Some unions have launched strikes on the basis of very low numbers of members voting in the ballot authorising industrial action.

Tory plans could set a minimum of 50 per cent turn out for such a ballot to provide the necessary legal authority for a strike.

A first draft of the Tory manifesto is expected to be delivered to David Cameron later this summer.

The proposals follow a call from Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, to outlaw strikes when fewer than 50% of a union’s membership has taken part in the ballot authorising industrial action.

Mr Johnson was responding to a strike by transport worker on the London Underground in February, which took place after fewer than half of members voted in a ballot. Ministers are particularly concerned about limiting the disruption caused by teachers’ strikes in schools, because of the impact on the ability of parents to go out to work.

At present, only a simple majority of union members voting is required to authorise industrial action. Downing Street has said the issue of a new voting threshold was “on the table”.

Only members of essential public services, such as the police, armed forces and prison officers are currently prohibited by law from taking strike action.

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