Latest Public Sector News

21.11.11

Strike legislation could be reformed

Ministers are again threatening to implement minimum turnout restrictions on public sector strike ballots to limit the disruption caused by industrial action.

Over 2 million workers are set to join the walk out on November 30 for a day of action organised by the TUC, including teachers, civil servants and council workers.

The Government is discussing a 40% minimum turnout for ballots to be deemed legal, which would make it more difficult for unions to organise strikes.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude told the BBC 1’s Andrew Marr show: “Members, for the most part, simply haven't voted in these ballots.

“We keep these things under review. No law is set in stone forever but we think broadly the law works pretty well. We keep it under review but the CBI have made a powerful case for change, others have as well.”

The final offer from the Government was “as good as it gets”, Maude said, and suggested that this could be withdrawn if the strike goes ahead. This offer would guarantee that no-one within 10 years of retirement would have to work longer or see their pension income fall. More generous rates of accrual are also included in the deal.

The Lib Dems are thought to be much less keen on minimum turnout thresholds, and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has suggested there are more important things to focus on.

Under the ‘40% rule’, some of the larger unions’ ballots would have been void, including those of Unison (29%), Unite (31%), and the GMB (33%). Many smaller unions easily exceeded that turnout, however, including the National Association of Probation Officers (45%), National Association of Head Teachers (53.6%), Society of Radiographers (58.2%) and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (66%).

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