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by Tom Freeman
15 July 2015
Trade union reforms introduced

Trade union reforms introduced

New laws to limit the influence of trade unions have been unveiled by the UK Government.

The new Trade Union Bill, which formed part of the Conservative manifesto, will introduce a 50 per cent threshold on strike ballot turnouts.

It will also set a threshold of 40 per cent support for industrial action from members of unions representing workers in health, education, fire and rescue, transport, border security and energy.

Powers of pickets to deter non-strikers from working will also be curbed.

Business secretary Sajid Javid said: “Trade unions have a constructive role to play in representing their members’ interests but our one nation government will balance their rights with those of working people and business.

“These changes are being introduced so that strikes only happen when a clear majority of those entitled to vote have done so and all other possibilities have been explored.”

The scale of the proposals have been compared with a crackdown in union rights introduced by Norman Tebbit in 1985 under Margaret Thatcher.

Labour’s shadow trade and industry minister Stephen Doughty called the bill “a divisive piece of legislation which puts to bed any notion that the government is taking a one nation approach”.

He added: “After muzzling charities and restricting access to justice this is the latest attempt to silence critics of this government and its policies."

General secretary of the Scottish Trades Unions Congress (STUC) Grahame Smith said the plans were “vindictive, unfair and unnecessary”.

“It is inevitable that this Bill will bring unions into conflict with the law.  It will create a toxic industrial relations atmosphere, particularly as employers are now to be given the green light to employ strike-breakers, creating unnecessary conflict,” he said. 

Unions, employers and government were working together more productively in Scotland, he added.

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