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Unions launch blistering attack on Government’s strike law overhaul

Unions have warned that a planned Government overhaul of strike laws will make it ‘virtually impossible’ for public sector staff to confront ‘bad employers’.

Proposed reforms under the Trade Union Bill could outlaw industrial action in key sectors including education, transport and health sectors without both at least 50% of union members voting and 40% supporting the action.

Rules would also free up employers to use agency workers to cover striking employees, while setting a four month time limit on a mandate for industrial action following a ballot.

Trade union GMB said measures requiring union members to ‘opt in’ on paying into political funds would ‘bankrupt’ the Labour Party.

Unions have vowed to launch a campaign against the proposals, which are out ro consultation until September.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘This Bill is an unnecessary attack on workers’ rights and civil liberties that will shift the balance of power in the workplace.’

She added the Government was looking to ‘silence protests against their cuts to children’s centres, libraries and social care services’ and warned that working people would now find it ‘far harder’ to get a pay rise or defend their terms and conditions.

A Unison spokesperson said: ‘These unfair proposals will make it virtually impossible for working people to stand up to their employers when anything goes wrong at work.

‘The Bill will be a green light to bad employers who will feel able to treat their staff as they choose, safe in the knowledge that they are unlikely ever to have to worry about the threat of industrial action.

‘The UK already has tough laws on strikes – there is no need to make them stricter still. Democracy won't be enhanced by raising thresholds but by bringing balloting into the 21st century and allowing union members to vote from their phones, tablets and laptops.’

Employment minister Nick Boles said: ‘People have the right to expect that services on which they and their families rely are not going to be disrupted at short notice by strikes that have the support of only a small proportion of union members.

‘These are sensible and fair reforms that balance the right to strike with the right of millions of people to go about their daily lives without last minute disruption.’