TRADE UNION BILL: Ballot thresholds in important public services

Submitted by sglenister on Fri, 22/01/2016 - 12:22

22 January 2016

Professors Tonia Novitz and Alan Boggs, and Dr Ruth Dukes, respond to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills' (BIS) consultation on the proposal to limit strike action in the public sector: part of the Trade Union Bill.

The government consulted on its plan to introduce a 40% threshold of support for strike ballots across all eligible voters in "important public services" on top of the new 50% threshold for turnout. A significant part of the consultation process centred on how "important public services" should be defined".

We argued that some restrictions to the right to strike are permissable for "essential" services, as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as those the disruption of which would endanger lives. Many of the government's proposed "important" services do not fall under this definition (for instance, education and transport). We also do not agree that placing a 40% support threshold on ballots is the best way to balance the safety of the population with workers' right to strike, and would prefer to see the government provide its support to better dispute resolution.

The authors said: "We are concerned that the drafters of the Bill have introduced a term, 'important public services', which has no precedent under international or British law. This does not accord with the UK's treaty obligations under the ILO Constitution or Conventions and is inconsistent with the established ILO jurisprudence regarding treatment of 'essential services'. We recommend compliance with internationally established standards such that we restrict access to the right to strike..."

This consultation response should be read in conjunction with the original consultation document from BIS

Click here to read the IER's full response

On 21 January 2016, the government made its response here.

Ballot thresholds in important public services.pdf343.96 KB

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