Laws on strikes need reforming

October 04, 2010 5:02 PM

London commuters are having another nightmare getting to work today because of 24 hour strike on the London underground – the second in a month. The Mayor and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have called for changes in the law governing strikes so that small numbers of workers cannot hold the majority to ransom.


Boris Johnson wants the government to introduce legislation preventing industrial action unless at least 50 per cent of union members in a workplace take part in a ballot, while in a report released today the CBI argues that a minimum of 40 per cent of union members balloted to be in favour of a strike. Currently, industrial action can take place even if only 1 per cent of those polled respond - as long as a majority of respondants are in favour.


Considering most public sector unions are calling for mass protests against essential cuts in public spending, it's absurd that a very small number of people can stop the delivery of essential services and, potentially, make taxpayers pay for even higher government borrowing costs if spending is not cut.


The CBI also called for the notice period for industrial action to increase from 7 to 14 days after the ballot to give employers more time to prepare for strikes, and argued that employers should be able to hire agency staff during strikes so that services can still be delivered.


Ministers say there are no immediate plans for new strike laws, however with the unions gearing up to oppose cuts and threatening industrial action the government should consider reforms so that taxpayers are not held to ransom.

London commuters are having another nightmare getting to work today because of 24 hour strike on the London underground – the second in a month. The Mayor and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have called for changes in the law governing strikes so that small numbers of workers cannot hold the majority to ransom.


Boris Johnson wants the government to introduce legislation preventing industrial action unless at least 50 per cent of union members in a workplace take part in a ballot, while in a report released today the CBI argues that a minimum of 40 per cent of union members balloted to be in favour of a strike. Currently, industrial action can take place even if only 1 per cent of those polled respond - as long as a majority of respondants are in favour.


Considering most public sector unions are calling for mass protests against essential cuts in public spending, it's absurd that a very small number of people can stop the delivery of essential services and, potentially, make taxpayers pay for even higher government borrowing costs if spending is not cut.


The CBI also called for the notice period for industrial action to increase from 7 to 14 days after the ballot to give employers more time to prepare for strikes, and argued that employers should be able to hire agency staff during strikes so that services can still be delivered.


Ministers say there are no immediate plans for new strike laws, however with the unions gearing up to oppose cuts and threatening industrial action the government should consider reforms so that taxpayers are not held to ransom.

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