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Trade Union boss Len McCluskey has announced at Unite’s annual conference that he will change the rules to allow activists to illegally strike.
The move comes in direct response to the government amendment that aims to make it harder for workers, especially in the public sector, to strike. However, Unite has now changed their policy to allow workers to strike even if it goes against the new rules so that members are not subjected to such “oppressive legislation”.
The constitutional change was announced by Len McCluskey at the annual conference with the union leader saying:”‘Unite is not going to see itself rendered toothless by passively submitting to unjust laws.
“We are ready for the fight and we will, I believe, find allies among everyone who cares for freedom and democracy.”
According to reports in The Telegraph, the union will remove ‘so far as may be lawful’ from their strike section of their rules with Unite stating that currently the right to strike was “hanging by a thread” and that the new laws were not welcomed by any union or workers.
Under the Trades Union Bill, which is now looking to be fast-tracked by the Conservative government, amid fresh warnings that more strike action could occur. The new rules will pose minimum turnout thresholds on strike ballots so that more than 50% of members have to vote for a strike to be deemed lawful. As well as this, employees would be allowed to hire temporary workers to cover staff, something that was previously forbidden. The legislation will aims to make t even more difficult for essential services such as fire, transport, health and education to strike, with such services needing 40% of all those eligible to vote to back a strike before it can go ahead.
Had the proposed laws been in place in the last few years, three-quarters of all strikes would not have been legal as well as those that recently crippled the London underground.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Trade unions have a constructive role to play in representing their members' interest, but our one nation government will balance their rights with those of working people and business.
"These changes are being introduced so that strikes can only happen when a clear majority of those entitled to vote have done so, and all other possibilities have been explored.”
British Chambers of Commerce policy and external affairs executive director Dr Adam Marshall said the right to strike "must be exercised with the greatest restraint."
"Businesses will see this as a sensible piece of legislation that carefully balances the rights of those wishing to withhold their labour, against the rights of those who rely on access to essential services.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director-general Katja Hall said the bill was "an important, but a fair step to ensure that strikes have the clear support of the workforce."
The TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady believes the bill "is a slippery slope towards worse rights for all" and stated that it could lead to legal action and other major employment issues.