Tuesday 12 December 2017

Cameron sets new Tory government on crash course with unions

Britain's Queen Elizabeth is accompanied by Prince Philip as they proceed through the Royal Gallery before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, at the Palace of Westminster in London Britain May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Geoff Pugh/Pool
Britain's Queen Elizabeth is accompanied by Prince Philip as they proceed through the Royal Gallery before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, at the Palace of Westminster in London Britain May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Geoff Pugh/Pool

UK Prime Minister David Cameron set himself on a collision course with labour unions as his government announced legislation limiting the right to strike.

Ballots for strike action will only be valid if more than half of eligible workers take part.

In the case of "essential" public services, including transport, health, education and transport, more than 40pc of those entitled to vote will have to back action, Cameron's office said in a briefing.

"The government's proposals on union ballots will make legal strikes close to impossible," Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O'Grady has said.

"Union negotiators will be left with no more power than Oliver Twist when he asked for more.

After five years of falling living standards the prospects for decent pay rises have just got a whole lot worse."

The proposed legislation, announced in Queen Elizabeth II's speech to parliament setting out the government's programme, is in part a response to repeated strike action on the London Underground rail network that has caused disruption to commuters and businesses in the capital. They also continue restrictions on labour unions started by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

There will also be time limits between votes for industrial action and strikes or other disruptive activity, forcing unions to seek new mandates for action.

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