Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free
x Turn on thread page Beta

Conservatives to make public service strikes more difficult to call if they win GE watch

Announcements
    • Political Ambassador
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    Political Ambassador
    (Original post by BBC News)
    The Conservative Party says it will make it harder to call strikes in certain "core" public services if it wins the general election.

    Under the plans, a strike affecting health, transport, fire services or schools would need the backing of 40% of eligible union members.

    Currently, a strike is valid if backed by a simple majority of those balloted.

    The Tories have already proposed a minimum 50% turnout in strike ballots, which unions say is "anti-democratic".

    They would also end a ban on using agency staff to cover for striking workers, impose a three-month time limit after a ballot for action to take place and curbs on picketing.

    The package of measures will feature in the party's manifesto for May's general election.

    Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that a planned London bus strike on Tuesday 13 January had only been voted for by 16% of people entitled to take part in the ballot, and called the walk-out "ridiculous".

    "I think before a strike is allowed to go ahead it must have much more support from the union members and cannot be called by politicised union leaders," he said.

    But Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said that participation in strike ballots and other types of vote should be improved by introducing online voting, in "safe and secure balloting".

    At the moment, strikes can only be called based on the results of a postal ballot - which "don't do the job", Ms O'Grady added.
    So what do we think about this then? It's certainly an interesting pledge for the Conservatives to make. Is it true that public sector strikes are called all too often at the moment and should be made harder to call? Is it anti-democratic for the Tories to say that they think there needs to be a certain percentage turnout (e.g. 40-50%) for strikes to be validated in services like the NHS and schools?
    Offline

    21
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Reluire)
    So what do we think about this then? It's certainly an interesting pledge for the Conservatives to make. Is it true that public sector strikes are called all too often at the moment and should be made harder to call? Is it anti-democratic for the Tories to say that they think there needs to be a certain percentage turnout (e.g. 40-50%) for strikes to be validated in services like the NHS and schools?
    I support this.

    While i think that individuals absolutely have a right to choose to collectively bargain, i think that strikes are abusive. The reason i say this is that unions act like oligopolies in the labour market and abuse their position in their market effectively, doing things they wouldn't normally dream of in the private sector (they often make deals such as the car plant in Newcastle). Unfortunately unions are able to abuse their position in the public sector because while the owners of Grange-mouth can relocate, government still needs schools and can't ship the students off to Ireland if the unions don't cave. Further, these cross-public sector strikes in health and education could be deemed collusion in a way we wouldn't stomach when supermarkets colluded over the milk price (i think it was milk).

    So yes to unions negotiating on an employees behalf if they so wish but no to abusing the fact that the public sector is owned by a single entity (government).

    ..

    Was also disappointed to see the Liberal Democrats not back this.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    The right to strike was hard won by the Chartist movement. Strikes are a good thing as they force employers to listen to workers demands, e.g., stop the cuts, Michael Gove is Education Secretary, Andrew Landsley's health reforms, privatization, etc.
    This is merely an attempt to get the unions to shut up. GET THE TORIES OUT. my reasons why are so extensive, it would take at least 3 pages to write them all.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    I support this for the reasons given by Rakas, as well as for personal convenience.

    If not even 40% of union members will vote on a strike, then the issue is not substantive enough to warrant a strike.
    Offline

    21
    ReputationRep:
    Generally I am in favour of this but I think there also has to be a quid pro quo.

    At present too many strike ballots are being disallowed because of trivial technical breaches. Moreover, the rules for the conduct of strike ballots are very restrictive and serve to reduce turnout. Democracy cuts both ways.
    Online

    20
    ReputationRep:
    Obviously we survived a lot more strikes a few decades ago. I wouldn't say it was a good thing but it didn't spell the end of civilization as we know it either. I'm not sure this is a problem that needs solving in the current epoch & I'm a bit worried about what the tories have got coming down the pipeline for public sector workers.
    Offline

    17
    ReputationRep:
    Given that the strike regulations are pretty much openly designed to prevent strikes, why not simply go back to the pre-20th century notion of strike as breach of contract? The "right to strike" (i.e. right to breach a contract) is neither logically defensible nor any longer truly in existence.
    Offline

    21
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Observatory)
    Given that the strike regulations are pretty much openly designed to prevent strikes, why not simply go back to the pre-20th century notion of strike as breach of contract? The "right to strike" (i.e. right to breach a contract) is neither logically defensible nor any longer truly in existence.
    It remains the case that any employer is entitled to sue his employee who goes on strike for damages for breach of contract. That has never changed,

    The history of industrial relations is the history of whether and in what circumstances (a) the employee commits a crime by striking (b) the union commits a crime or tort by being involved in some way in the strike and (c) people or organisations commit crimes or torts by seeking to influence the behaviour of others.

    Restrictions on workers' freedom of action pre-date classical economics and so there is no golden age to return to.

    Moreover both sides in industrial relations have tended to assert their own right to do as they please whilst denying it to the other.
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    Honestly thinks the Torys should stop Beaton around the bush and say what they mean. They want to make it impossible for public sector workers to strike.

    As far as I'm concerned the right to withdraw labor is incredibly important, especially in a capitalist system where the vast majority of people have literally no bargaining chips, apart from their time, to hold their employer to account for unsatisfactory or unsafe environments.

    If you want less strikes the sensible way to so it is to involve workers in the decisions that affect them, make them happy, content and invested in their work and they will be less likely to withdraw labor when hard decisions must be made.

    That said, it wont happen, especially in the UK. The establishment don't trust people to run their own lives and from what I have seen the average person doesn't either. Instead successive governments will continue to erode the rights of the worker, forcing them to comply with whatever dictat their employers impose for fear of their livelihood if they disobey.
    Offline

    21
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by mojojojo101)

    As far as I'm concerned the right to withdraw labor is incredibly important, especially in a capitalist system where the vast majority of people have literally no bargaining chips, apart from their time, to hold their employer to account for unsatisfactory or unsafe environments.
    The vast majority of strikes do not happen in a capitalist environment but with state employees (or in the case of railways highly state subsidised private employers) and the vast majority of strikes do not concern unsatisfactory or unsafe environments.
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    The vast majority of strikes do not happen in a capitalist environment but with state employees (or in the case of railways highly state subsidised private employers) and the vast majority of strikes do not concern unsatisfactory or unsafe environments.
    The state sector still operates under a capitalist system, there is no avoiding that. Workers have little to no self-determination, hierarchy is vertically
    imposed and vices like wage slavery are still real threats to peoples freedom and well being.

    While I would agree that some strikes recently have been slightly frivolous, I don't agree that we should limit those workers rights to oppose an employer in the case that a situation in which that does arise should come to the fore. In fact I think the current strikes by the fire service are a great example of why the ability to strike must be held on to, especially under the current economic system.
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Reluire)
    So what do we think about this then? It's certainly an interesting pledge for the Conservatives to make. Is it true that public sector strikes are called all too often at the moment and should be made harder to call? Is it anti-democratic for the Tories to say that they think there needs to be a certain percentage turnout (e.g. 40-50%) for strikes to be validated in services like the NHS and schools?
    I think you here understate what is being required. On my reading it isn't that there be a majority seen in a circumstance where there is at least a 50% turnout but that at least 50% of those eligible to vote should vote in favour of striking.
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by mojojojo101)
    The state sector still operates under a capitalist system, there is no avoiding that. Workers have little to no self-determination, hierarchy is vertically
    imposed and vices like wage slavery are still real threats to peoples freedom and well being.

    While I would agree that some strikes recently have been slightly frivolous, I don't agree that we should limit those workers rights to oppose an employer in the case that a situation in which that does arise should come to the fore. In fact I think the current strikes by the fire service are a great example of why the ability to strike must be held on to, especially under the current economic system.
    The most militant unions and avid proponents of strike action put so-called Capitalist fat cats to shame. The most trigger-happy for strike action have been the RMT on the London underground.

    Do you have any idea what tube workers earn? Do you have any idea the kind of demands and blackmails they have made in recent times under the threat of strike action?

    The greed shown by tube workers and the RMT would make any MP look like a subsistence farmer on a kibbutz.
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Clip)
    The most militant unions and avid proponents of strike action put so-called Capitalist fat cats to shame. The most trigger-happy for strike action have been the RMT on the London underground.

    Do you have any idea what tube workers earn? Do you have any idea the kind of demands and blackmails they have made in recent times under the threat of strike action?

    The greed shown by tube workers and the RMT would make any MP look like a subsistence farmer on a kibbutz.

    And you one union be the cause of millions of people losing what is a fairly essential right. The right to withdraw labor.

    If you don't like the way the RMT is run then oppose the RMT, don't suggest imposing oppressive and regressive legislation to remove the freedom of others instead.
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by mojojojo101)
    And you one union be the cause of millions of people losing what is a fairly essential right. The right to withdraw labor.

    If you don't like the way the RMT is run then oppose the RMT, don't suggest imposing oppressive and regressive legislation to remove the freedom of others instead.
    There is no universal right to withdraw labour. It can only be done behind the figleaf of TULRCA. In some cases of strike action, the ballots are very clear - I think in teaching ballots this tends to be the case.

    The most prolific strikers are the ones that have the poorest turnouts and majorities - and also the ones that have the most self-centred motivations. These are the ones that would be affected.

    Personally, I would advocate breaking the back of the RMT no matter what the short term cost. If it means widespread disruption and hundreds or thousands of tube workers losing their jobs - so be it.
    Offline

    17
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    It remains the case that any employer is entitled to sue his employee who goes on strike for damages for breach of contract. That has never changed,
    First I am not sure that is true; second, strikers clearly have other privileges that other breachers of contracts do not, like a right to return to the original terms of the contract whenever they please, which remains binding on the party that didn't breach it.
    Offline

    21
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Observatory)
    First I am not sure that is true; second, strikers clearly have other privileges that other breachers of contracts do not, like a right to return to the original terms of the contract whenever they please, which remains binding on the party that didn't breach it.
    Taff Vale is about whether you can sue an organisation that does not legally exist for tort. It has nothing to do with claims in contract.

    What wasn't in issue in that case was whether a tort was committed at all because that had already been decided against the labour interest. However the so called economic torts were invented in the context of labour relations, were anomalous in a number of legal ways and still to this day barely exist outside of the employment context (inducing breach of contract is endemic in the mortgage industry and motor trades for example).

    You are quite correct that workers have privileged positions by statute in relation to their contracts following the ending of a trades dispute.

    The point that I am trying to get over here is that there is no past neutral position where there was ever freedom of contract in employment relations.

    The first statutory intervention to negate the competitive advantage of workers in a labour shortage was the emergency legislation passed in consequence of the Black Death but that legislation remained operational until Victorian times.
    Offline

    21
    ReputationRep:
    Had no idea we'd passed Labour regulation so long ago. Always assumed that until the Victorian Times the Labour market was largely unregulated.
    Offline

    21
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Rakas21)
    Had no idea we'd passed Labour regulation so long ago. Always assumed that until the Victorian Times the Labour market was largely unregulated.
    The attempt to fix wages utterly failed but what stuck were criminal penalties for withdrawal/transfer of labour.

    Obviously you can deregulate a labour market but there can be no idealised end point for that deregulation. What you deregulate is always a matter of policy and both sides of industry wish to deregulate that which favours them and keep that which protects them.

    For example it is a rule that the remedy of specific performance is not available for contracts of labour. That exception to the general law of contracts is necessary otherwise you have indentured servitude. Obviously regulated indentured servitude created by statute existed in parts of the Empire until the early 20th century.

    However, that general exception from specific performance is not firmly established in England until the 1860s but there is no real fight about it (and the case in which it is established is not an industrial case). However, if you say there should be freedom of contract does that mean I can offer training contracts on specifically enforceable terms that I have an option over the trainees' future service for the next 30 years?
    Offline

    21
    ReputationRep:
    This isn't new news - that's been pretty standard usual tory practise for decades.
 
 
 
Poll
Do you agree with the proposed ban on plastic straws and cotton buds?
Useful resources

Groups associated with this forum:

View associated groups

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.