UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis has hit back at government ministers and business leaders who are trying to attack the legitimacy of Thursday’s strike ballot result, on the basis of turnout. In the UNISON ballot, 245,358 people – just under a qua …

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UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis has hit back at government ministers and business leaders who are trying to attack the legitimacy of Thursday’s strike ballot result, on the basis of turnout.

In the UNISON ballot, 245,358 people – just under a quarter of a million members –  voted for strike action, with 70,253 voting against –  that is 76% of those voting, choosing industrial action.

Dave Prentis said: “UNISON is a democratic organisation whose members have the right to vote in strike ballots.  There was a 76% vote in favour of action and that democratic decision made by our membership is valid and legitimate and must be respected.

Democracy in the UK is not perfect, and we all need to look at why turnouts have fallen.  But for government ministers and business leaders to question the legitimacy of our result is a bit rich.

“The UK’s democratic system gives people the right to vote, there is a consensus that whoever wins the popular vote governs the country. There is no requirement for an absolute majority of all potential votes, or of all votes cast. Indeed, earlier this year the alternative vote was overwhelmingly rejected by the British public.

“If you follow our critics’ own logic, they would all have a rather shaky claim to power.”

For example:

  • In 2010 the Conservatives received only 23% of all votes that could have been cast.
  • General elections do not take into account the estimated 3.5million people who aren’t even on the register, with those included Conservative support at the last election falls to 21%.
  • In London, Boris Johnson won control of City Hall with only 24% of potential votes.

UNISON members voted overwhelming in favour of strike action, with 76% of members who voted choosing industrial action. In contrast:

  • Boris won City Hall with 42% of votes cast
  • In 2010 the Conservatives received 36% of all votes cast.

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