Unions fear 'war' with government over strikes

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The Independent Online

The Government was today accused of "declaring war" on trade unions amid rumours that ministers were considering tightening up laws on strike ballots.

Employers have been pressing for changes to strike ballots so that a set number of union members would have to vote before any action could be held.

Unions said today they feared ministers were considering changes to the laws on voting, following a spate of recent strikes by British Airways cabin crew and railway workers.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said: "It is a testament to the priorities of this Government, led by two public school boys, that they should consider attacking the rights of ordinary workers rather than the bankers who caused the recession.

"More and more we are seeking the well-to-do upper class targeting the lower class and make them pay for the recession. It is unfair and unacceptable."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, accused ministers of "declaring war" on unions and of seeking to prevent workers from fighting back against cuts in jobs and public spending.

"The ConDems know that by far the biggest campaign of resistance to their austerity and cuts plans will come from the trade unions. They are running scared and are now looking to tighten the noose of the anti-union laws around the workers necks to choke off resistance.

"Under any proposals to raise the bar hardly a single MP in the UK would have been allowed to take up their seats. It's one law for the political class and one law for the working class in a move that has echoes of a right-wing South American dictatorship.

"This is a declaration of war on the trade union movement and our response will be robust as we lay down plans for co-ordinated and generalised industrial and community action against the cuts."

The CBI last month called for changes to strike ballots, suggesting that 40% of union members would have to take part in voting before any action could be held.