Monday, February 15, 2016

ILO questions the UK's new anti-union laws

The International Labour Organisation requests that UK ministers re-look at proposals to lift ban on agency workers replacing those who are on strike. The trade union bill, which is currently going through the House of Lords, represents the biggest crackdown on trade union rights for 30 years. It includes plans to introduce a threshold of 50% turnout for industrial action ballots and, for important public sector services, a requirement that at least 40% of all eligible voters vote in favour of action. It also proposes to lift the ban on using agency workers to replace permanent staff during strikes.

The International Labour Organisation, calls for the government to review proposals to allow agency workers to replace strikers and asks that it only permits the use of replacements in industrial action in “essential services”. The government announced that fire, health, education, transport, border security and nuclear decommissioning sectors would be deemed essential public services in the bill and therefore be subject to the 40% requirement. However, the ILO is asking the government to modify the bill to ensure that this rule does not apply to education and transport services.

The ILO also called on the government to modernise the procedural rules for balloting set out in the bill, which include the requirement that voting must be done by post only. The Conservatives have claimed that electronic voting is a security risk, while unions argue that postal voting is expensive and time consuming.

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