Debate Magazine

Not Often I Agree With Trade Unions, But...

Posted on the 18 July 2014 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

From the Telegraph
Union bosses are to be stopped from holding “rolling” strikes and will only be able to stage walkouts with the support of 50 per cent of the workforce, under Conservative plans.

The Tories will legislate to ban rolling mandates, with a law that a strike must take place within three months of any ballot.

There will also be a legal requirement for a 50 per cent turnout threshold for any strike ballot to be lawful, ministers said.
I don't much like trade unions. I think they're antiquated organisations that came about in a time of limited mobility and our greater mobility has rendered them generally pointless. But I think people have a right to strike and to withdraw their Labour if they're reasonable about it.
And I also think that part of that membership includes a certain degree of being part of things. That you're part of the democratic system, that like parliamentary elections, you'll get what you're given if you don't turn up. We don't nullify elections or parliametary votes because not enough people turned up. If you can't be bothered, you're going to be ignored.
I think most of the reforms of the 80s like laws against secondary picketing and flash strikes are reasonable in terms of balancing the rights of workers and users of their services. It's reasonable that parents have notice of a strike to make arrangements. But from both a position of rights and reducing union power, we should allow strikes to happen.
You see, I like it when public sector employees with power strike because they generally turn the public against them. The tube strikes are making the public much more open to the idea of driverless trains on the Underground network. Point out how often private school teachers go on strike to a parent who's had to take a day off, you've got someone who is more likely to think that voucher schemes are a good idea.
So, trying to stop strikes is not only morally wrong, it's also bad for winning the hearts and minds of the public to accept reform.


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