Raising strike thresholds is the right policy for the wrong reasons

Raising strike thresholds is the right policy for the wrong reasons, says Prospect

Prospect always seeks the strongest possible mandate for strike action, and walkouts remain a rare option of last resort, the union said today, following publication of the trade union bill.

All unions will be subject to the rule that at least 50% of the relevant branch membership must take part in a ballot for a strike to go ahead – a threshold that the union has met on nine of the last 11 occasions.

Prospect members in nuclear decommissioning will need to meet the new rule for workers delivering public services: 40% of the entire membership must vote in favour of strike action.

Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said: “It is clear the new thresholds are not motivated by democratic or any other principles. Nevertheless we welcome the challenge and pledge to work hard to meet it.

“Our approach is always to work constructively with employers wherever possible to best meet the needs of our members. Prospect strike action is a rare occurrence, and it cannot be emphasised often enough that it is an action we take only when all other options have been exhausted.

“Having the strongest possible mandate is important for commanding confidence in our negotiating strategy not just from the employer and members, but also from the wider public.”

Despite this Prospect has raised significant concerns about three other areas of the bill:

  • Facility time – This is the lifeblood of unions' day-to-day work and it is hard to see how further restrictions in the civil service can be warranted after Francis Maude earlier this year told the Commons: “Facility time in the civil service is now rigorously monitored and reported.”
  • Agency Workers – while Prospect’s specialist members are not easily substituted, a repeal of a ban on the use of agency workers is an unnecessary attack on the right to strike, given the new thresholds. It will have an unhelpful effect on workplace morale and relationships.
  • Certification Officer – A proposed levy of unions and employers' associations to fund new powers will be an additional administrative and financial burden. Unions should not be responsible for paying for their own, additional regulation.

For further information contact:
Mike Clancy
020 7902 6704 (w)
07770 304477 (m)
Andrew Child
020 7902 6681 (w)
07803 008697 (m)