The proposal to introduce a 50 per cent turnout of all union members before strike action is a bad error that will hit many of the working people who voted Conservative last week, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Tuesday 12 May).
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner, who has been leading the union’s efforts to modernise voting, said: “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.”
Sajid Javid has confirmed that plans to curb the ability of unions to call strikes was ‘a priority’ and would be included in the Queen’s Speech on 27 May.
The Tories would introduce a minimum 50 per cent turnout threshold for strike ballots and insist that at least 40 per cent of workers vote for strikes in essential public services and lift the ban on the employment of agency staff during strikes.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2061 or 07768 693940.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.