BORIS Johnson has called for a change to Britain’s trade union laws, in a bid to prevent a repeat of yesterday’s crippling Tube strikes.
The London mayor used his speech at the Tory party conference in Birmingham to call for new legislation, which would force trade unions to win the support of 50 per cent of members before going on strike.
Currently, unions only need to get the support of the majority of members who actually cast their ballot, meaning industrial action is deemed legal even if turnout is very low.
“It cannot be right that a ballot can lead to strike action when less than half the union members take part,” Johnson said.
Transport secretary Philip Hammond also condemned the Tube strikes, and called on Labour leader Ed Miliband to voice his opposition.
He said: “Ed Miliband is failing to come clean on what he thinks about these hugely disruptive and pointless tube strikes.
“Now he must answer two questions: does he condemn these pointless strikes that are causing disruption to Londoners, and will he encourage Underground workers to cross picket lines and keep our capital city moving?”
Miliband refused to respond to the Tory challenge.
Aides said the Labour leader did not want to get into the habit of “providing a running commentary on every bit of industrial action”, although they pointed out that he has opposed Tube strikes in the past.
Bob Crow, leader of Tube driver’s union the RMT, defended his members’ decision to strike and called on Johnson to resolve the dispute through negotiations.
Crow said: “Instead of playing to the Tory gallery and attacking his staff the mayor should take this hardening dispute seriously and meet with the unions as a matter of urgency.” The TUC also condemned Johnson, saying it would be a betrayal of the government’s claim to want better relations with the unions.