CBI wants law on strikes tightened as strife looms

The CBI will today launch a campaign for the biggest overhaul of trade union legislation since Margaret Thatcher confronted militant workers in the Eighties. The employers' group will call for a series of reforms to the law, amid concern amongst businesses that the forthcoming public spending review could trigger a wave of strikes.

The CBI will argue that the public mood is implacably against strikes and that employment legislation needs to be updated in order to reflect the way labour relations have developed over the past 20 years.

The move reflects a hardening of attitudes towards industrial action following a series of disputes in which employers have turned to the courts to prevent staff going on strike. Workers at British Airways, Network Rail and Royal Mail have all had plans to strike thwarted in this way.

"Strikes should always be the last resort, and in most cases common sense prevails and negotiation wins the day," said John Cridland, the CBI's deputy director-general. "Industrial action is never inevitable, and we want to see public-sector managers and unions going the extra mile during the difficult times ahead."

The CBI will call for a string of changes to the law, including giving employers the right to hire temporary agency staff to cover striking workers, and an increase in the notice period required for industrial action, from seven to 14 days. The employers' group also wants the law tightened on ballots, with new rules requiring at least 40 per cent of all those balloted to vote for a strike, limits on what aspects of disputes each ballot should cover, and a crackdown on which union members are eligible to vote.

Employers should be given the opportunity to put their side of the argument directly to staff before any ballot is held, the CBI believes. It is also advocating increases in the compensation unions are liable to pay if they fail to observe properly the law on strikes.

Such reforms would be seen as a major curb on unions' ability to confront employers. However, the CBI said legal changes were necessary to protect both the public and businesses: "When a legitimate strike threatens to disrupt the services on which the public depends, it is only right that it should require a higher bar of support, [which] is why no strike should go ahead unless 40 per cent of the balloted workforce has voted for it," Mr Cridland said. "While workers have the legal right to withdraw their labour, employers have a responsibility to run their businesses. The public increasingly expects it to be 'business as usual' even during a strike, so firms must be allowed to hire temps."

The CBI's campaign is certain to be vigorously opposed by the trade union movement. Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the TUC, has already vowed to fight the proposals.

"The UK has some of the toughest legal restrictions on the right to strike in the advanced world; already the courts regularly strike down democratic ballots that clearly show majority support for action," Mr Barber said.

"The CBI proposals are a fund-amental attack on basic rights at work that are recognised in every human rights charter, and [they] will be dismissed by any government with a commitment to civil liberties."

Mr Barber said the CBI misunderstood the motivations behind strikes.

"It is particularly disappointing for the CBI to take such a one-dimensional view of industrial relations, in which strikes are always the fault of unions and never that of management. Strikes are always a last resort, as union members lose their pay," he said.

Sport
world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Sport
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
beauty
Sport
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice