CBI Inconsistency Watch Number 2
As Paul Nowak commented on this blog yesterday, the CBI really does need to have a sit down in a quiet room and really think through its approach to democracy. Paul highlighted the CBI’s demand for turnout thresholds in ballots for industrial action. But also within the CBI’s ‘Making Britain a Place to Work’ document is a demand that in respect of the legislation relating to statutory recognition, even when a union seeking recognition has over half of the workforce concerned in membership, there should still be a ballot. This is dubious in three respects. Firstly there’s an implicit suggestion that even though workers might have joined a union freely, they should be asked again, just to check in case those nasty union organisers and reps somehow made them join. Secondly it increases the type of workplace uncertainty that the CBI appears so keen to minimise in respect of redundancies, and thirdly it has the potential to see an increase in union busting tactics that, although more common in the US, have been used in the UK to some effect. Union busters activities usually get particularly nasty around recognition ballots.
The principle that was meant to underpin recognition legislation was that if workers don’t want a union to represent them (or even to be in one) then unions shouldn’t be forced on them – hence the end of the closed shop. But, if a majority of workers do want a union to represent them and demonstrate this by actually joining one and paying subs, then their wishes should be respected. What could be simpler, or fairer, than that?