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Strike Action

Volume 555: debated on Thursday 20 December 2012

3. What plans the Government have to make it a requirement that more than 50% of the eligible membership must approve strike action for it to take place. (134536)

With tube strikes planned for this Christmas, I suggest that it is not right that a minority of employees, particularly in the public services, can hold employers and the public to ransom. May I urge the Government to revisit this one?

I hear what my hon. Friend says. Obviously, we are pleased that the CrossCountry and ScotRail strikes have been called off. Dialogue is always the best way to resolve these issues. Strike action is a sign of failure on both sides, so resolving the issues is always the best solution. On the subject of a minimum turnout and vote, I gently point out to my hon. Friend that his Conservative colleague, Nick Alston, is the new police and crime commissioner for Essex and was elected with the support of 6.6% of the electorate.

The right to withhold one’s labour is a mark of a country’s democracy. Does the Minister agree that any move to restrict that right is a move in an anti-democratic direction?

The hon. Lady makes an important point. It is also worth noting that strikes and industrial action at present are at historically low levels. That is a sign of positive industrial relations and is to be welcomed. Trade unions play a very important role, and although the headlines generally focus on industrial action and strikes, the excellent work that they do on training and resolving workplace disputes often does not hit the headlines and should be commended. We always keep issues under review, but it is fair to say that the industrial action laws and situations are generally working well.