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Strikes should only go ahead if 40% of balloted union members vote in favour, says CBI

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The CBI calls for changes in the law to raise the threshold for industrial action and to ensure disruption to the public and companies is minimised if strikes do occur.

In a new report, Keeping the Wheels Turning: Modernising the Legal Framework of Industrial Relations, the business group suggests measures that would modernise employment relations legislation and keep the recovery on track.


With industrial action across the public sector likely to increase as the Government takes the necessary steps to reduce the deficit, John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: "Strikes should always be the last resort and in most cases common sense prevails and negotiation wins the day.

"Industrial action is never inevitable, and we want to see public sector managers and unions going the extra mile during the difficult times ahead. By constructively working together damaging industrial action can be avoided."

 With 85% of private-sector employees not members of a union, and most employers now negotiating directly with staff or their representatives to bring about changes in the workplace, the CBI believes the law needs updating. 
 
In this report, the CBI reiterates its call for the threshold for industrial action to be raised so that strikes can only go ahead if 40% of balloted members vote in favour of action, as well as a majority of those voting. And it argues that in the event of a strike going ahead businesses must be able to continue to deliver the services that the public and customers expect. To allow firms to keep trading through strikes, the CBI says companies should be able to recruit agency staff to provide essential cover for striking workers. As the law stands now, firms can recruit temps directly, but not via an agency.
 
Cridland added: "When a legitimate strike threatens to disrupt the services on which the public depends, it is only right that it should require a higher bar of support. That is why no strike should go ahead unless 40% of the balloted workforce has voted for it.
 
"While workers have the legal right to withdraw their labour, employers have a responsibility to run their businesses. The public increasingly expects it to be business as usual, even during a strike, so firms must be allowed to hire temps directly from an agency to provide emergency cover for striking workers."
 
Other proposals in the report include strengthening the enforcement of the law to prevent illegal wildcat strikes.

Cridland commented: "The re-emergence of unofficial wildcat strikes using social networks to evade the law has been particularly worrying. The union regulator needs to be given the power to stop these abuses which undermine the reputation of responsible unions."
 
This report builds on the an earlier report, published in June, Making Britain the Place to Work, which called for action to create an updated employment framework to make Britain a leading place to do business and generate jobs.