Labour Research July 2011


Government ministers flag up anti-union legislation

With a rolling programme of strike action under way as unions fight to defend their members’ pensions, another minister has mooted the possibility of amending strike laws.

Cabinet office minister Francis Maude became the latest minister to say the government may look at introducing new legislation that would require a minimum threshold for union ballots in favour of strike action.

His comments were made following the announcement that the PCS civil service union was joining the NUT and ATL teachers’ unions for coordinated strike action at the end of last month.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, he agreed with business secretary Vince Cable about the possibility of new legislation.

He added: “We don’t think the case is made at the moment, but we haven’t ruled it out.”

Unions reacted angrily when Cable told the GMB conference earlier in the month that, while the case for changing the law was currently “not compelling”, if there were co-ordinated and damaging strikes, “the pressure on us to act would ratchet up”.

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny accused the government of double standards, “saying it’s ok to have protests and strikes in Egypt but when it comes to workers’ protests in this country we think we should legislate them out of business,” he said.

Tory London mayor Boris Johnson and business organisation the CBI are also backing calls to introduce anti-union legislation.