The CBI has called for tougher regulations on strike balloting, claiming industrial action could hurt the country’s economic recovery.
In its new report the business group advocates a change to ballot rules so that strike action can only take place if 40 per cent of the balloted workforce, plus a simple majority of those voting, support it.
The CBI has also called for a reduction in the consultation period for collective redundancies of more than 100 people from 90 to 30 days, claiming this would “spare staff from uncertainty”.
The report, called Making Britain the Place to Work, highlights the importance of the UK’s flexible labour market and said any future employment legislation should be designed to promote economic growth.
CBI proposals include extending the right to request flexible working to all employees as well as retaining the opt-out from the maximum 48-hour week under the European Working Time Directive.
“As we enter a period of fragile recovery, we need to do everything we can to create a jobs market that works for Britain, and to ensure Britain is the place to work,” said John Cridland, CBI deputy director general.
“Strikes cause misery. They also cost the economy dearly and undermine our efforts to help rebuild the economy. That is why we believe the bar needs to be raised, so strike action is not possible unless 40 per cent of the workforce has actively voted to withdraw its labour.”
“We believe shortening the consultation period to a month would spare staff from some of this uncertainty, while allowing companies to act quickly to protect the longer-term health of the business.”
But the TUC criticised plans to alter trade union balloting rules and called the CBI’s proposed cut in the redundancy consultation period “hypocritical”.
“The UK already has some of the toughest legal restrictions on the right to strike in the advanced world. The courts regularly strike down democratic ballots that clearly show majority support for action. The number of days lost to industrial action is historically low and less than in many other countries,” said TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.
“While we expect the CBI to lobby against rights at work, please spare us the hypocrisy of pretending that a cut in the period for consultation over redundancy is for the benefit of employees. A 30 day period does not provide unions – let alone staff unrepresented by unions – any real chance to develop alternatives or effectively negotiate changes.”