Tories Promise To Interfere With Union Democracy

30 Jul 2014

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has said the Tory manifesto for the next general election in May 2015 would include the requirement for at least half of eligible union members to vote in order for a strike to be lawful. There would also be a three-month time limit after the ballot for the action to take place and curbs on picketing. As well as the 50% threshold, Maude also pledged to require unions to set out on the ballot paper the exact form or action they were proposing, with a vote on each aspect of the dispute. Unions would also be required to give employers 14 days notice before taking industrial action, rather than seven days now.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Britain’s strike laws are already some of the toughest of any democracy. You do not have to support every bit of industrial action to see that the right to strike is an important human right — and always one of the first things banned by any dictatorship. The purpose of this is clear. It is to ensure that the fruits of recovery are reserved for the few and kept from the many.”

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady has also called on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to change the rules so that union members might use digital means to vote in future strike ballots.

O’Grady told business secretary Vince Cable in a letter: “Three-quarters of adults now have access to broadband at home, 94% own a mobile and seven in 10 a smartphone. With these figures going up all the time — even for low-income workers — it seems strange for some ministers to slam unions for low turnouts, while having little enthusiasm for the 21st century methods of voting that would encourage greater participation. Unions already use digital means to reach members and when they use these modern methods to gauge feelings over pay offers, for example, they can secure turnouts as high as 96%.”