London’s Tube and fire unions would need the backing of at least 40 per cent of eligible members before they could strike under plans contained in the Conservative Party’s general election manifesto.
Party leader David Cameron has previously said he would consider proposals put forward by Tories on the London Assembly to ban strikes and require both sides in a dispute to enter into binding arbitration.
However the party’s manifesto instead pledges to reform union and strike laws to “require the support of at least 40 per cent of all those entitled to take part in strike ballots – as well as a majority of those who actually turn out to vote.”
The policy would apply to all “essential services” including health, education, fire and transport and would also allow bosses to hire agency staff to cover during strike action.
Tube unions vetoed Mayor Boris Johnson’s 2008 pledge to introduce a no-strike deal. Last year they held a series of strikes in protest at ticket office closures and resulting job losses which they say will endanger passengers.
London’s firefighters have also held strikes both against the Mayor’s decision to order the closure of fire stations across the capital and Government changes to their pensions.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said any attempt to impose a minimum turn-out requirement “would meet the fiercest possible resistance.”
He added: “This is the clearest possible case of one law for the political class and another for the working class.
“Only a tiny handful of the hypocrites advocating these ballot thresholds has ever been elected on the same kind of percentages they are demanding in a strike vote.”
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said: “This Tory manifesto is a further attack on our democracy. These proposals would make it nearly impossible for workers to take any form of legal strike action.
“Britain already has some of the worst anti-union laws in the Western world and now the Conservatives want to make further attacks on a basic human right.
“The hypocrisy of the Conservatives is astounding. Barely any members of parliament have been elected to office securing 40% of their electorate’s vote that they are now demanding from trade unions.
“The Conservative mantra continues to be one rule for the rich and powerful, and another rule for workers trying to defend themselves.”