On 27 May 2015 the Queen’s Speech confirmed plans to tighten
the law on public sector strikes. It was confirmed that the Trade Unions Bill
will be brought forward to implement the changes proposed by Business Secretary
Sajid Javid, who sees such changes as a government priority.
The Government wants to tighten the rules on when a strike
can be held to reduce the problems strikes cause to other members of the public
going about their working lives.
In order to achieve this, the Government is proposing that a
50% turnout threshold will be introduced for all ballots on industrial action.
In addition, 40% of eligible voters must back action for strikes in core public
services (being health, transport, fire services or schools). This essentially
means that 80% of those who vote, must vote in favour of the strike for it to
An additional point worth noting is that temporary workers
will be permitted to cover striking staff as the Government also wants to
tackle intimidation to non-striking workers.
The unions have raised concerns that they will be unable to
achieve the 50% threshold of votes on the basis that postal ballots in the
public sector rarely achieve a high turn out. It is the view of the unions that
the Government’s proposed changes are an attack on a worker’s fundamental human
right to withdraw their labour. For now, we shall have to wait and see how the