Unions demonstrate to prevent anti-strike law

Unions protest in Westminster
Unions protest in Westminster

By Ian Dunt

Trade unions will demonstrate outside parliament in a bid to rule out any anti-strike laws which could be used to prevent a new winter of discontent.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Boris Johnson have both called for reform of Britain's strike laws to prevent a series of industrial actions bringing the country to a halt once public spending cuts start to bite.

The CBI demanded a new criterion for legitimate strikes - that 40% of union members eligible to vote support the industrial action. Mr Johnson put the figure at 50%.

The demands prompted a defensive manoeuvre from left wing campaigners and trade unionists.

Labour MP John McDonnell tabled a private members bill for today aimed at ruling out frivolous attempts by employers to overturn industrial action ballots in the courts on minor technicalities.

Unions released research today showing that under the 40% threshold, only 38 Mps would have been elected, with big names such as George Osborne, Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and Ken Clarke all failing to secure enough support in their constituency to survive the implementation of the rule.

Under the 50% level of ballot participation advocated by Mr Johnson, he himself would have to give up his seat, as would all of his GLA colleagues, as total turnout in the last mayoral and GLA elections was 44%.

Bob Crow, RMT general secretary, said: "We know that there has been a new push from the bosses organisations, the mayor of London and other Tory politicians since the election to try and get the government to load the law on industrial action even further in their favour.

"This research shows that as far as they are concerned it's one version of democracy for the political class and another for the working class.

"With the cuts battle set to intensify this autumn there is no doubt that the government and the employers will see the anti-union laws as an important weapon in trying to choke off workplace resistance to attacks on jobs and services. It is essential that the trade union movement rallies round John McDonnell's bill."

The lawful industrial action (minor errors) private members bill will be supported by a 12:30 BST demonstration outside Westminster today.


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