Public Sector Strikes: The Preparations.

Public Sector Strikes: The Preparations.

At least 6 major public sector unions are set to go on strike on Thursday 10th July. Union leaders expect a major turn out, the biggest since 1926.

The government is threatening stricter union laws to stop weak or old ballots making strikes legal. Currently a simple majority of those voting is enough to make a proposed strike legal. A stricter rule might require half of all the membership to both vote and support the proposed strike. Few ballots would get a 50% vote currently. This has to do with many things.

Poor record keeping, members moving address and not informing the union, members leaving the union, members retiring are just a few reasons. But perhaps the major reason is that workplace balloting is illegal. Were this to be allowed in future it seems reasonable to assume that 50% could be reached. Also, the actual turn out on the day of the strike is often higher than the ballot.

The possibility of workplace balloting is a return to the past, and is most unlikely to happen. The unspoken fear here is of unions bullying their members to vote for a strike.

The vast majority of union members are now in the public sector. This leads to a criticism of unions being very weak in the private sector. This is true, although there has been some increase in recent years, but from a low base. However, one could argue that this strike is an example of unions operating from their position strength; the public sector.

All the above is an argument to persuade unions to be more open about their support, especially in the public sector. But having a government which is also your employer is a position of weakness. Unlike disputes in the private sector there is no other government to appeal to! This is all the more reason to show the union’s strength; not only by the numbers marching on Thursday, but by showing internal efficiency, and loyalty by their members, who have suffered.

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