ASLEF condemns attack on democracy

15 April 2015

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, has condemned Conservative plans, announced in their manifesto, to make it virtually impossible for trade unions in essential services to go on strike.

They want to ‘continue the Thatcher project’ by bringing in new laws that would make a strike illegal in health, education, fire and transport unless ‘at least 40% of all those entitled to take part in the ballot’ vote in favour of industrial action. That’s a far higher threshold than the present law, which means a strike is legal if it has a simple majority of those who vote.

Mick said: ‘This plan is outrageous. The Tories say “We will protect you from disruptive and undemocratic strike action.” But what is undemocratic about a majority in favour? It’s one rule for us, and another for them, Because only 16 of the 650 MPs elected in 2010 secured 40% of the eligible vote. This is just another example of Tory double standards.

‘Traditionally, in this country, votes – for parish, district and county councils, as well as for Parliament, in trade unions and every other form of business or recreational activity in which democracy plays a part – are legitimate if you secure a majority of those who bother to vote. To raise the bar in this way is a blatant attempt to make it virtually impossible for train drivers, teachers, firefighters,doctors and nurses to go on strike.

‘The right to strike – the right to withdraw your labour – is a fundamental human right. Employed, only as a last resort, when management push the workers too far. The alternative, which the Tories want, is a slave labour workforce where men and women, many of zero hours contracts, can be hired and fired on a whim. The coalition has already tampered with employment tribunals to make proper redress much harder to get.

‘What, I want to know, is the punishment for a bad employer? Because there are plenty of them about. But this is all about over-regulating the unions while letting management get away with murder.

‘At least we can now see the Tories for what they really are – anti union, anti-worker, and anti-democratic.The Tories are creating a climate that will lead to wildcat strikes or even a General Strike because people will see what they’re doing.’

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