Tory Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced a 16-point plan to further restrict strikes. Many of the measures overlap with plans already announced by prospective prime minister Liz Truss, and two have already been implemented.
Whether Shapps survives the cabinet reshuffle that will inevitably follow the election of the new prime minister remains to be seen/ Nevertheless, both Truss and Shapps’ announcement are an indication of how serious the Tories are about further criminalising effective trade unionism, and highlight how seriously the labour movement must organise in response.
1. Raise the balloting support threshold in important public services to require a minimum of 50 per cent of the eligible electorate to vote in favour of action (currently 40 per cent).
2. Require unions to give four weeks’ notice of industrial action instead of two.
3. Limit the ballot mandate to one event of strike action (currently the mandate allows any number of strikes within six months; this would have required the RMT to reballot five times so far if they wanted to stage five one-day strikes).
4. Impose absolute limits on numbers attending pickets.
5. Place restriction on picketing in the vicinity of critical national infrastructure sites.
6. Prohibit use of inflammatory and intimidatory language on pickets.
7. Prohibit online intimidation.
8. Remove the cost risk to employers through sanctions imposed for making an offer directly to trade union members before collective bargaining has been exhausted.
9. Require ballot papers to clearly state the reason for the dispute and employer’s response to issues in dispute.
10. Remove prohibition in the Civil Contingencies Act on using emergency regulations to stop strike action where strike may create a national emergency (other CCA safeguards still apply).
11. Bring in a cap on facility time in the public sector.
12. Remove trade union check-off facility in public sector employers (private ones will have the power to do so if they wish).
13. Investigate taxation of ‘strike pay’.
14. Minimum service levels in rail.
15. Remove prohibition on agency workers being used to temporarily replace strikers (done).
16. Increase the damages cap for unlawful strikes (done).
Available online here.