Tuesday, 5 October 2010

CBI campaigns for modernisation of strike legislation

Timed to perfection, coinciding with the Conservative Party Conference and the London Tube Strike, the CBI this week called for changes in the law to raise the threshold for industrial action, and to ensure that if strikes occur disruption is minimised.

CBI unveils package of measures to avoid strikes

The CBI argues that their recommendations for modernisation of the UK employment relations legislation are essential if the current recovery is to be kept on track.

The CBI believes the law needs updating to reflect the fact that 85% of private sector employees are not members of a union, and that most employers engage directly with staff or their representatives to bring about changes in the workplace.

Their recommendations include:
  • Employers should be able to use agency temps to cover for striking workers.
  • The notice period for industrial action should increase from seven to 14 days after the ballot takes place to give the public and businesses more time to prepare for strikes.  
  • People should have the right to decide whether they want to be represented by a union. Ballots should always be held on union recognition – it should never be automatic.  
  • Strikes should be the result of a clear, positive decision by the workforce concerned. The test for a legitimate strike should be that 40% of balloted members support it as well as a simple majority of those voting.  
  • Only paid-up union members should be able to vote – there should be a single legal definition of a union member.  
  • Unions should keep records up to date. They should conduct an annual audit of their membership and make all reasonable endeavours to keep records accurate throughout the year.  
  • Union members should be required to hear both sides of the argument before voting in a strike ballot. Employers and unions should each be allowed to send concise statements with the ballot papers, setting out the scope, nature and reason for the dispute.  
  • Union members should be advised on the implications of striking for them personally. Ballot papers should include a notice warning that pay and non-contractual benefits can be withdrawn if an employee goes on strike.
These recommendations are likely to polarise the population into those that think that Trade Unions are an anachronism, led by a band number of militant Marxists intent on holding a company to ransom, and those who think that the CBI’s recommendations are an attempt to totally remove the last weapon in the Trade Unions’ arsenal – that of the removal of labour.

So, dear readers of HR Case Studies: What do you think? Comments welcome.

1 comment:

  1. I don’t see polarisation, I see a sensible middle ground that better ensures the unions (who still, in my opinion, hold too much sway) can’t claim to speak for the masses when in fact they only speak for their members who bother to vote.