David Cameron. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid.
Calling Cameron’s bluff on strike votes
Annoyed at the public service strike in July, David Cameron has announced a whole raft of Conservative manifesto proposals that could stop any workers taking strike action again.
He wants to see strike ballots only succeed where there’s a turnout over 50%. He also wants to criminalise peaceful picketing, force unions to hand more private data to employers, and give employers more opportunity to get injunctions to prevent strikes in the courts.
Cameron’s rationale for these draconian proposals is that many union ballots only get a low turnout, with the majority of members not returning their votes.
But if he’s so serious about making sure strikes have majority support, why won’t he allow unions to use online voting?
Union ballots are currently regulated by 1992 legislation – long before most people were thinking about online – and it’s stopping many people from getting involved. The last government made provision for this to be updated, but the Coalition has never taken the last step to activate the regulations that are waiting to be used.
Unions know that giving people an extra chance to vote in a way that’s appropriate to them, on computer or mobile, will get turnouts up – rather than solely relying on a postal form that gets binned along with the junk mail or forgotten til it’s too late.
It’s a common sense proposal, but is it being held back because it’s inconvenient to the PM’s argument that only repressive restrictions can improve the accountability of strike votes? Is David Cameron trying to use this issue to cut our rights by the back door, and permanently shift the balance of power to those at the very top?
So Mr Cameron, if you really care about strike vote turnouts, why don’t you just enable unions to fix the problem themselves by using online voting?