Business Minister Nick Boles MP writes about the Trade Union Bill

Business Minister Nick Boles writes "The right to strike has been and remains an important part of our democracy. But that should never mean a right for a small hard-core of union members to wreak havoc on millions of people trying to go about their lives.

In recent years, that is exactly what we’ve seen. Last year, Len McCluskey’s Unite union staged an NHS walk out where just 10% of eligible Unite members voted in favour of a strike. We also saw a London bus strike where less than 16% of bus drivers had voted for industrial action.

Readers will know just how big the disruption can be –chaos on the roads when trains aren’t running, missing work to look after the kids or finding an expensive childminder, health appointments cancelled. When based on such measly support, these strikes are simply unacceptable.

That’s why we’re changing the law to insist a minimum of 50% of union members must have voted in a strike ballot. And in our important public services such as the NHS, schools and transport, and the border force too, strikes must have a minimum of 40% support of eligible union members.

That is fair to millions of hardworking people trying to get to their jobs. Fair on parents needing to drop their kids off at school. Fair on families relying on our key public services. And fair on unions too, restoring public trust that strikes will always be as a result of a clear and positive result.

We’ve already heard some hysterical reaction from union leaders. One compared these changes to something from Nazi Germany. That’s as offensive as is it is wrong.

Our reforms fairly balance the right to strike with the right of millions of people to go about their daily lives and work.

We’ll also put safeguards in place so union members who want to work during strikes can do so without intimidation from the bullies.

And we’ll make sure union members’ hard earned wages are not siphoned off to Labour party bank accounts without their explicit say so.

The Labour party must once and for all decide whose side they’re on. A small cabal of union leaders making outrageous claims or millions of working people. The Conservatives are clear. Our Trade Union Bill will at long last bring strike laws into the 21st Century to the benefit of workers everywhere."

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