More than two-thirds of employers back the ban on trade unions taking secondary action, exclusive research has revealed.
A survey of 783 HR professionals by Personnel Today and law firm Eversheds found strong support for legislation preventing union members holding so-called sympathy strikes. Less than one in 10 thought the ban should be lifted, while a fifth said they were unsure.
Strikes in support of fellow workers have been illegal since being banned in 1980 when the Conservatives, led by Margaret Thatcher, were in power. But the unions have recently upped the pressure on the government to overturn the ban, and reforming the law on secondary action was initially part of union demands at Labour’s national policy forum earlier this year – although the demand was eventually dropped.
In 2005, wildcat action by Heathrow baggage handlers in support of sacked staff at airline caterer Gate Gourmet led to travel chaos.
Martin Warren, head of the HR group at Eversheds, said: “This summer, the media reported strong lobbying by the trade unions to gain government support to overturn the ban on some secondary action. However, Gordon Brown’s public comments have so far suggested that he is against taking this step.
“A return to the days of secondary action currently seems unlikely, which will bring a measure of comfort to UK employers.”