UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The right to strike - no let up from Raab-id Tory attack dog

Yesterday’s decision of the RMT to mount strike action on London Underground in defence of two victimised union members, has triggered another outpouring of anti union bile from Norman Tebbit wannabee Dominic Raab MP http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2011/05/dominic-raab-mp-its-time-to-get-tough-with-bob-crow-and-the-rmt.html

Only last week Raab failed in his attempt to introduce a bill requiring more than 50 per cent of trade union members to vote for industrial action:

The Commons exchange between Raab and Tony Lloyd MP are now available on line via Hansard and make interesting reading – extracts below:

Raab – “Why should a militant minority coerce, intimidate and bully the silent majority? [Interruption.] I think we are hearing the answer from the mutterings from Labour Members. Nor should the same militant minority be licensed to disrupt the wider public and damage the UK economy. This Bill will focus on strikes in the emergency services and the transport sector, where the scope for such disruption is particularly acute. The CBI, Policy Exchange and the London Mayor have all called for a threshold for strike action.

"Other countries, such as Denmark and the Czech Republic, have a threshold, and the Prime Minister has agreed to consider the case for reform in this area. In truth, this is just one of the changes we need. However, the Bill is framed in terms that would at least allow for a wider debate, if Labour Members can stomach it, particularly on, for example, the case for a requirement that strike ballots specify the grievance, so that-God forbid-members are actually told what they are being asked to strike for, and so that union bosses cannot exploit a successful ballot on a specific grievance in pursuit of their own wider vested interests.

"Likewise, there is a case for requiring individual ballots for strikes against each legal public sector employer, so that nationwide strikes cannot be instigated on the thin pretext of some localised dispute”

Lloyd = “ I invite the hon. Gentleman to get out a little more and to talk to people who work and who are not bullied by trade union bosses but who cast their vote in secret. That is the nature of the balloting process for trade unions; it is a secret ballot in which individual members cast their own votes.

"Those members are sovereign. Most aspects of the balloting process for industrial action are widely accepted by trade unions and by employers as the legitimate way of doing this. Very few of them are arguing that we should increase the height of the hurdles so as to make it difficult for legitimate industrial action to take place. The reality is that when we restrict the capacity for people to register this kind of protest, we do not improve industrial relations. There might be short-term gains, but in the end, such action merely entrenches the disaffection of those employees who feel that they have been badly treated and increases the arrogance of the bad employers.

"That is exactly what we had in the 1980s: an arrogant management culture; attempts by the Government to support arrogant managers; the de-industrialisation of Britain; an increase in the number of days lost through industrial action; and the very shameful record of previous Conservative Governments on industrial relations”