The Conservatives are “the party of the working people” according to David Cameron. He said this in the same week that it was announced by his party that strike laws would be significantly changed to prevent working people from taking industrial action. We know that this Tory government has absolutely no regard for human rights (they plan to scrap the Human Rights Act), and this proves it further. Companies will be allowed to treat their workforce horrendously, and workers will be virtually powerless to fight back.
The new law will state that any strike affecting essential public services will require 40% of eligible union workers to back it, and there will have to be a turnout of at least 50% at the strike ballots.
It’s time to do some maths. Let’s say that our imaginary union has 100 members (because this makes the maths bit a lot easier for me). We are all members of this union, and we are being treated unfairly in our workplace. The wealthy people at the top don’t care and won’t listen to us. We decide to strike in order to make a positive change.
Our union holds a strike ballot. We rally around and get a big group of workers to vote. The votes are counted up, and the decision is unanimous. 100% of votes say YES, LET’S STRIKE! We cheer, but the cheers come prematurely. Only 49 people voted in the ballot. And despite every single one of the voters agreeing with strike action, this doesn’t meet the new 50% turnout criteria that will be put in place.
This is very hypocritical of the Tory government because if these new rules were to be applied to the General Election vote, the Tories would not be in power, and therefore wouldn’t be in a position to impose these voting conditions on unions. The mind boggles!
That’s not where the attack ends, though. Read this BBC article for further information on how the Tories plan to put restrictions on picketing, and how they want to lift restrictions on using agency workers to replace striking worker: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-32702585
I’ll leave you with the words of the TUC general secretary:
“This is a government not so much on the side of hard working people, but Britain’s worst bosses – those who want their staff to be on zero-hours contracts, poverty pay and unable to effectively organise in a union so that they can do something about it,” said Frances O’Grady.
“The government’s proposals on union ballots will make legal strikes close to impossible. Union negotiators will be left with no more power than Oliver Twist when he asked for more.
“After five years of falling living standards, the prospects for decent pay rises have just got a whole lot worse.”