Maude warns union bosses

Steve Dinneen
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THE GOVERNMENT warned unions yesterday it is prepared to pass tough new strike laws and axe the pension reform deal if public sector workers go ahead with a planned strike later this month.

In a sign the government is losing patience with the unions, cabinet office minister Francis Maude said it was “absolutely within our power” to withdraw the concessions it has already made.

He said: “If they do call out their members on strike at a time of huge fragility for our economy then the case for reform of the ballot laws will become very pressing. I don’t sense any appetite amongst most of the union leaders to go in for protracted prolonged industrial action.”

Meanwhile, he announced plans to simplify the process for firms to apply for government contracts, in a bid to spur growth. Under current rules it costs UK firms around twice as much to win a major government contract than it would cost a French company.

The changes will include listing government contracts online to break down some barriers to entry and operating an “open door” policy, whereby firms have greater access to government departments.

He told the BBC: “We need to make things better for business in the UK.”