Labour Research November 2015

Union news

Unite offers olive branch on balloting

Len McCluskey, leader of the country’s largest union Unite, has offered prime minister David Cameron a “measure of agreement” on industrial action ballot thresholds in return for secret, secure workplace voting. He has written to Cameron proposing the adoption of the thresholds used in the union recognition legislation for strike ballots.

To be successful, statutory recognition ballots must be supported by a majority of those voting and by at least 40% of those entitled to vote (the entire bargaining unit).

In return, McCluskey wants the government to amend the Trade Union Bill to allow for “more modern methods of balloting including online, digital and, most importantly, secure and secret balloting in the workplace”.

In his letter to Cameron, he said: “It is my understanding that the Electoral Reform Society, which acts as independent scrutineer to most industrial action ballots today, believes there is no difficulty in guaranteeing workplace balloting procedures which are secret and are secure against any possibility of fraud or intimidation.”

He added: “Were you able to accept this modern and democratic proposal to update balloting procedures then Unite, for its part, would be comfortable about accepting the thresholds and the time limit on the validity of ballots proposed … without prejudice to our position on other elements of the legislation.”