The CBI has called for stricter balloting regulations to reduce the number of strikes.
In its Making Britain the Place to Work report, the employers’ group called for strikes to have a higher bar of support, with balloting rules being changed so industrial action could only be taken if 40% of the workforce support the action, as well as a majority of those actually taking part in the vote.
Currently, trade unions can launch strikes so long as a majority of those that vote support the action.
The change would prevent strikes going ahead based on a relatively small turnout of active members, the CBI said.
If this new regulations regarding strike ballots had been in place, it would have prevented strikes over changes to Civil Service redundancy packages by the PCS union, as well as the RMT’s London Underground strike last year.
But the new rules would not have prevented the British Airways strikes or the Royal Mail stoppage last year.
The CBI’s proposals include:
He added: “I think it is a serious runner because the government will face a great deal of public anger if very necessary actions to deal with public spending result in strikes which the public as a whole believes are not justified.”
But the TUC has criticised the CBI’s proposal as a “demolition job on the rights at work of their members’ staff – and a charter for exploitation by unscrupulous employers”.
Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, warned the UK already had some of the toughest legal restrictions on the right to strike, and the courts regularly strike down ballots.
He said: “Any further restrictions would be extremely unfair and almost certainly breach the UK’s international human rights obligations.”
The CBI has also proposed that consultation periods for collective redundancies should be reduced from 90 to 30 days for companies making more than 100 people redundant, in a bid to reduce uncertainty for staff and allow employers to reshape their workforces more swiftly.
Currently, only a one-month consultation period is needed for proposed redundancies of fewer than 100 jobs.
But the TUC warned reductions to redundancy consultation periods would not allow workforces enough time to develop alternatives for staff.