- 4 updates
Trade unions today denounced Conservative plans to make it harder for public sector workers to strike.
Under the proposals, at least 40 per cent of all union members eligible to vote must back industrial action before it goes ahead.
ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan reports:
Labour has accused the Conservatives of playing "political games" with unions after plans to impose restrictions on strike ballots.
The Tories say the new guidelines, which include a mandatory 40 per cent level of support for striking, would minimise disruption caused by industrial action.
But Labour said it was a sign the party had "run out of ideas".
Health, education, transport and fire service workers who want to go on strike will have to get support from 40 per cent of union colleagues, under new plans unveiled today.
The proposals by the Tories form part of a package of measures the party claims would safeguard against disruption to everyday life by strikes which may have only minor support from union members.
Tube strikes in London cause havoc for commuters forced to turn to bus routes and overground services instead, while many parents have to take time off work or fork out for childcare when teachers take to the picket line.
The plans also include ending a ban on using agency staff to cover for striking workers, protections for workers who want to continue working, and reviewing the use of minimum service levels.
Conservatives will legislate to make it more difficult for unions to call strikes in key public services if they win this year's election.
Industrial action in the health, education, transport and fire services would require the support of at least 40% of all those entitled to take part in strike ballots - as well as a majority of those who actually turn out to vote.
A Conservative source said this would prevent strikes going ahead on the basis of majorities in ballots in which only a small proportion of the unionised workforce has participated.
The move was denounced as a "democratic outrage" by the TUC, who said it would effectively end the right to strike in the public sector at a time when Conservatives are planning pay restraint and large-scale job cuts.
GMB general secretary Paul Kenny pointed out that Conservatives failed to secure 40% support of those who voted in the 2010 general election, while only 15 Tory MPs had the backing of 40% of those entitled to vote in their constituencies.
Under proposals to be included in the Conservative manifesto for the May 6 election, Tories also pledged to end the ban on the use of agency staff to cover for striking workers, and promised a review on the possible introduction of minimum service levels to ensure that core services remain available during strikes.