Unite general secretary says he will accept thresholds if PM allows secure, secret workplace ballots
Len McCluskey has challenged David Cameron to do a deal over his controversial plans to introduce thresholds for industrial action ballots.
The government wants at least 50% of members entitled to vote to take part in the ballot or else industrial action is void. In “core public services” (health, education, transport and fire services), 40% of that 50% must back strike action.
The Unite general secretary has offered to accept these thresholds in return for secret, secure workplace voting.
Writing to the Prime Minister, Len McCluskey said: “I am aware that government ministers and you yourself have justified the introduction of this measure by reference to concerns over low turnouts in some ballots leading to strike action.
“No-one, of course, can be happy when strike action takes place – especially in services on which the public depend – on the basis of the active endorsement of only a minority of trade union members affected. In my long experience of industrial relations, mainly in the private sector, such strikes are a rarity.
“Nevertheless, since I assume you are sincere about the concerns you raise about turnout, I would ask you to give urgent consideration to amending the Bill before parliament in order to permit the introduction of more modern methods of balloting including online, digital and, most importantly, secure and secret balloting in the workplace.
“Were you to be able to accept this modern and democratic proposal to update balloting procedures then Unite, for its part, would be comfortable about accepting the thresholds and the time limit on the validity of ballots proposed in the Trade Union Bill, without prejudice to our position on other elements of the legislation.
“I very much hope you will respond to this proposal in the spirit with which it is intended. I am of course happy to meet you or such minister as you may designate to discuss the matter further.”
The Trade Union Bill will soon begin its Committee stage in the House of Commons. The Police Federation, the body for recruitment agencies (REC), the CIPD, Amnesty International, Vince Cable and David Davis MP are among those expressing serious concerns about the impact of this bill should it become law.
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