New poll suggests majority are in favour of strike law shake-up

News Article

A new poll suggests that more than half of those surveyed are in favour of the shake-up of strike laws set out in the new Trade Union Bill.

During the summer, London’s tube workers staged two strikes in protest against proposals to have Underground trains running through the night.

However, strikes like this may be outlawed in future, if new laws relating to industrial action come into force.

Ministers are currently preparing legislation which would ban public sector strikes unless 40 per cent of the workforce votes in favour. There would also be a requirement that any strike ballot had at least a 50 per cent turnout.

The YouGov poll found that public opinion was firmly in favour of the reforms. Of those surveyed, 53 per cent supported the proposals, more than double the number who said they were opposed. 22 per cent of respondents said they were undecided.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid welcomed news that a “clear majority” supported the new legislation. He said: “When people depend on transport services to get to work, go to school or as their only means of travel, they have a right to expect that any strike action has a proper, democratic mandate.”

The new legislation would also:

  • Make unlawful or intimidating picketing a criminal offence.
  • Require unions to renew their mandate for a strike with a fresh ballot within four months of the first.
  • Give employers the right to hire strike-breaking agency staff.
  • Set a limit on the proportion of working time a public sector worker can spend on trade union matters.
  • Put more onus on unions to provide clear details of the dispute and proposed action on the strike ballot paper, so members have a clearer idea what they are voting for.

Lara Murray, an employment law expert with Palmer said: “This proposed new legislation is the most significant of its kind for 30 years and could mean major changes to the rules relating to industrial action – with many of the amendments favouring employers.”

Palmers provides practical, day-to-day support on a range of employment issues. For advice on matters relating to the new Trade Union Bill, please contact us.