Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tories launch biggest crackdown on trade unions for 30 years

The biggest crackdown on trade union rights for 30 years will be unveiled on Wednesday, including new plans to criminalise picketing, permit employers to hire strike-breaking agency staff and choke off the flow of union funds to the Labour party.

The scale of the reforms goes far wider than the previously trailed plan for strikes to be made unlawful unless 50% of those being asked to strike vote in the ballot.

In a set of proposals on a par with those introduced by Norman Tebbit in 1985, Sajid Javid, the business secretary, is also to require that at least 40% of those asked to vote support the strike in most key public service. In the case of 100 teachers asked to strike, the action would only be lawful if at least 50 teachers voted and 40 of them backed the strike.

The double threshold would have to be met in any strike called in health, education, fire, transport, border security and energy sectors – including the Border Force and nuclear decommissioning.

In further changes, Javid will:

• Require all unions, not just those affiliated to Labour, to ask each existing union member whether they wish to pay the political levy and then repeat the question every five years. The £25m annual political fund income from 4.5 million political levy payers funds a wide range of political campaigning including being a chief source of funding for Labour.

• Propose that unlawful or intimidatory picketing should become a criminal as opposed to civil offence and new protections should be available for those workers unwilling to strike. A named official will be required to be available at all times to the police to oversee the picket including the numbers on the line, currently set at six, in an existing code of conduct.


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