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Minister threatens strike law clampdown


The case for reforming Britain's strike laws will become "very pressing" if public sector workers push ahead with industrial action later this month, ministers warned yesterday.

Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister, said the CBI had made a "powerful case", calling for a minimum 40 per cent turnout on strike ballots before they are deemed legal. He added that current legislation was being kept "under review" and indicated staging a mass walk-out at a time of economic turmoil could provide cause for a clampdown on trade unions.

His comments were backed – albeit less enthusiastically – by Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who alongside Mr Maude is leading the Government negotiations on pension reform.

He told Sky News: "Of course we have to look at those things [but] that is not the main response to these strikes."

More than 2 million workers are now set to walk out on 30 November for a day of action co-ordinated by the TUC, which will disrupt schools, courts, council services and hospitals. Meanwhile David Cameron will today give the strongest hint yet that the Government intends to restructure Britain's employment laws to make it easier for businesses to hire and fire workers.

In a speech to business leaders the Prime Minister will argue that the only way to grow the economy is to cut regulation and make it more worthwhile for companies to invest in Britain.

But his remarks will lead to concern that hard-won workers' rights may be downgraded and it will be more difficult to sue for unfair dismissal.