Strike powers could be curbed ahead of public sector cuts

Government ministers are looking into curbing union strike powers to avoid a wave of industrial action against public sector cuts.

Ministers have held secret meetings to block nationwide strikes this autumn as departments enforce spending cuts of up to 40% and the loss of up to 600,000 public sector jobs.

The plans would toughen Margaret Thatcher’s union laws and block unions from calling strikes with a simple majority in a union ballot. The Conservatives are thought to be looking at raising the proportion of workers required to vote for a strike before it takes place.

The news comes after the CBI called for strike ballot regulations to be made more strict by requiring that 40% of the workforce support the action.

Transport secretary Philip Hammond recently held a meeting with the London mayor Boris Johnson to discuss the need for new rules on industrial action supported by only a small proportion of the workforce.

The mayor was asked for advice following his experience of dealing with unions, including the RMT rail union’s strikes affecting the London Underground last year.

A Conservative source told the Daily Telegraph the Cabinet is “feeling inclined to be very bullish and aggressive” about confronting strikes.

Last month, David Cameron said the TUC needed to accept the public sector would have to take cuts in pay, pensions and benefits.

Unions could also be made legally liable for the consequences of strikes.

Comments are closed.