Tory MP calls for tough new law on strikes

A CONSERVATIVE MP yesterday proposed new legislation that would ban strikes by transport and emergency workers unless 50 per cent of unionised employees vote in favour of industrial action.

Dominic Raab, MP for Esher & Walton, used the 10-minute rule procedure in the House of Commons to call for a change in the current law, which he said does “immense damage to the British economy and jobs”.

Currently, a trade union may call a strike as long as a majority of members who take part in the ballot vote in favour – even if turnout is very low.

In February 2010, the Public and Commercial Services Union called a strike across a range of services – including 999 operators and the coastguard – even though less than one in five union members voted in favour of industrial action. And the four one-day stoppages on the London Underground last autumn, called by militant transport union RMT, earned the support of less than one in three unionised workers.

Raab told City A.M.: “We lost almost half a million working days to strike action in the UK in 2009 – far more than Australia, Germany, the US and even Italy.”

So-called “10 minute bills” rarely become law, but are used by MPs to ensure that certain issues catch the attention of the Prime Minister and stay in the public spotlight.

David Cameron has previously said he would “look at” arguments for a change in the law to avoid “a wave of irresponsible strikes” while London Mayor Boris Johnson and employers’ organisation the CBI have also voiced their support.

RMT leader Bob Crow accused the “Tory right wing” of “hypocrisy”, pointing out that most politicians were elected to Westminster with the support of less than half their constituents.

He added: The Tory right wants one law for the political class and another for the working class.”