By Claire West
The government today (15 July 2015) introduces new reforms to strengthen strike laws, ensuring the right to strike is fairly balanced with the right of people to be able to go about their daily lives and work.
Under the current situation, a small minority of trade union members can fundamentally disrupt the lives of millions of commuters, parents, workers and employers at short notice — without clear support. The Trade Union Bill will address this imbalance by introducing:
A 50% threshold for ballot turn-out
An additional threshold of 40% of support to take industrial action from all members eligible to vote in the key health, education, fire, transport, border security and energy sectors — including the Border Force and nuclear decommissioning
This will ensure strikes are the result of a clear and positive democratic mandate from union members: upholding the right to strike while reducing disruption to millions of people.
The Trade Union Bill will also improve union practices and increase transparency by:
Setting a 4 month time limit for industrial action so that mandates are always recent
Requiring a clear description of the trade dispute and the planned industrial action on the ballot paper, so that all union members are clear what they are voting for
Greater scrutiny and controls over taxpayer-funded subsidies to trade unions (so-called ‘facility time’), such as full-time trade union representatives
Creating a transparent process for trade union subscriptions that allows members to make an active choice of paying into political funds, as is already the case in Northern Ireland, to protect union members from misleading marketing practices
it will also put in place safeguards to ensure non-striking members of a workforce are able to go about their business without fear of intimidation
"Trade unions have a constructive role to play in representing their members’ interests but our one nation government will balance their rights with those of working people and business.
These changes are being introduced so that strikes only happen when a clear majority of those entitled to vote have done so and all other possibilities have been explored.
This will deliver a key commitment we made in our manifesto," says Business Secretary Sajid Javid.