Government to change strike law reforms
Striking is a touchy subject among many, but here at Bitterwallet, we tend to side with workers, rather than chief executives and MPs. Now, there's news that the government are drawing up new legislation which is designed to make it harder for workers to go on strike.
This means, there's going to be a lot of bother for a lot of businesses, should it go through.
The Trades Union Bill proposes a number of things, including a requirement for a minimum turnouts in strike ballots, time limits on mandates for industrial action and changes to political levies. The government say that will provide some balance to those going on strike, and to the businesses.
The unions aren't having that, saying that these measures will make it nigh-on impossible to go on strike, legally. This, of course, is a huge problem because that puts the odds in the favour of businesses, and, as we know from Steely Dan and the Super Furry Animals, the man don't give a f*ck about anybody else.
Now, this isn't a surprising move from a government run by the Conservatives because they historically don't like people going on strike. The bill will get its first reading today, as it is officially introduced to Parliament. Alas, there won't be a debate about it - yet.
The Tories wanted to introduce these new rules ages ago, but they were part of the coalition, and the move was scuppered by the Liberal Democrats. The new bill says that a strike affecting "core" public services (transport, health, fire services or education) would need the support of 40% of eligible union members if it is to go ahead legally. There would also need to be a minimum 50% turnout for strike ballots to be valid.
Another thing the Conservatives are looking at, is a change in rules so that the current restrictions on getting temps and agency staff in to do the work of those on strike, are removed.
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."
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady referred to this bill as "a slippery slope towards worse rights for all", while Unite have taken the phrase "so far as may be lawful" from its constitution, with general secretary Len McCluskey saying: "Unite is not going to see itself rendered toothless by passively submitting to unjust laws. If the Tories wish to put trade unionism beyond the law, then they must take the consequences."
"We are ready for the fight, and we will, I believe, find allies throughout society, amongst everyone who cares for freedom and democracy."
Of course, there are a number of people who simply don't agree with some strikes. The recent Tube strike saw a lot of angry members of the public ranting on social media, which provided some impressive zingers.
Our favourite head-to-head was this.
Anyway, whichever side of the fence you're on, the government are trying to shake up things in the world of strike action, and this fight is invariably going to get very, very ugly.
We know that the Tories have form, but a lot of eyes will be on the Labour Party to see what they'll do. You can smell the warm pants of trouble with all this and it feels like there's going to be a lot of interruptions to public services and businesses.
There's going to be bother.