Right-wing Tory MP, Dominic Raab, was last week defeated in his attempt to introduce a ten-minute rule bill to impose further restrictions on the right of certain union members to take strike action.
Writing on his blog that too many strikes recently have received minority support from those entitled to vote, Raab argued that the majority of workers are then “corralled and often intimidated or bullied into supporting strike action”.
What was needed, he said, was a bill that would require strikes in the emergency services and transport sectors to carry a majority of support amongst union members, as opposed to a majority of those who vote. His proposal was defeated in the House of Commons by 171 votes to 121.
The right to strike, already severely restricted in the UK, is a fundamental human right formally recognised by the European Social Charter of 1961, the first international treaty to do so and signed by the Conservatives in 1962. In the UK there is no right to strike as such, just an immunity from damages.
After a number of restrictive court rulings, the Court of Appeal recently said in two conjoined cases brought by Thompsons for ASLEF and the RMT union that UK legislation should be given a “likely and workable” construction rather than be interpreted narrowly.
To download the debate in the House of Commons, go to the Publications section of the Parliamentary website.