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Maude warns unions over strike ballot rules


The case for reforming strike laws will become “very pressing” if public sector workers push ahead with industrial action, ministers have warned.

Francis Maude said legislation was kept “under review” and indicated staging a mass walk-out at a time of economic turmoil would lead to a clampdown on trade unions.

The Cabinet Office minister said the CBI had made a “powerful case” to government calling for a minimum 40% turnout on strike ballots before they are deemed legal.

He dismissed claims by union leaders that pension reforms were the most important issue for members in a generation saying it was “simply incorrect” as turnout had been “extraordinarily low”.

“Members, for the most part, simply haven’t voted in these ballots,” he told BBC 1’s Andrew Marr Show.

Asked about the possibility of introducing a minimum turnout rule, he added: “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.

“I have made this point to the unions that if they do call out their members on strike at a time of huge fragility for our economy, where actually a widespread disruptive strike would cause immense damage to our economy with a lot of people losing their jobs - people who don’t have access to pensions anywhere near as good as public sector workers will still have at the end of this - then actually the pace for reform of the ballot laws I think will become very pressing.”

More than two million workers are now set to walk out on November 30 for a day of action co-ordinated by the TUC, which will disrupt schools, courts, government offices, jobcentres, driving tests, council services and hospitals.

A series of unions representing teachers, civil servants, NHS and council workers have balloted in favour of action, setting themselves on a collision course with the government. They argue that the government’s pension reforms will leave them paying in more, working longer and receiving less when they retire.



Readers' comments (5)

  • Stop them striking and we will win!!!!! No way it is out time now to show how we feel.

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  • So the gloves are off Mr. Maude?! Okay then.....come and have a go if you think you're hard enough!!

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  • Should we not then have a minimum turnout for general elections or is it ok for a government to be elected with a staggeringly low turout. Perhaps the "condems" should set a minimum turnout for all elections, as it is clear that the tories will not have their lapdogs to rely on next time around.

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  • Yes if the government wants a minimum turn out for union strike action then as someone else said there should be a minimum turn out for elections & they should honour the publics request for a referendum on the EU!! Unfortunately I shall be striking on 30th my pension is at stake & future generations pensions & I have to work til 66 now instead of 60. I would not mind 2 - 3 extra years but not 6! Too much too soon while the real culprits still get their bonuses! Time we nurses stood up for ourselves!

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  • What Mr Maud forgets is that the unions are part of the domocracy that he is suppose to represent. Union rights have been fought for for the last 3 generations just as parlimentary democracy has been fought for for several generations. The CBI represents employers and sadly in this day and age it appears that it is the 'fat cat' employers it represents and not all. It appears to be coming apparent that this present government aims to destroy services and safety nets for the people in society who are unable to pay for services.
    We are rapidly moving backwords to the time when my relatives were forced back to work on poorer conditions starved into submishion by the employers. This was only 85 years ago 'from clogs to clogs' in one generation. If Mr Maud and the CBI continue to expound the 40% theory they shouldn't be surprised when the unions again become what they see has 'redder' and history repeats its self with another 'winter of discontent'

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