37.4% – not even enough for an overtime ban

Yesterday evening, at the first CIPD employment law update since the referendum, Darren Newman pointed out that the decision to leave the EU has been taken on the basis of a vote that wouldn’t pass the threshold of the new trade union laws. 52 percent of a 72 percent turnout only gives you 37.4 percent, well short of the 40 percent needed for any form of industrial action in important public services to be legal. As he said on his blog:

[A]s far as this Government is concerned, a ballot where 52% support strike action on a turnout 72% would not give sufficient democratic legitimacy to justify train drivers introducing a work to rule or teachers holding a one-day strike. However we are about to put our economy, security and place in the world in jeopardy to give effect to a referendum where, on a 72% turnout, just 52% voted to leave.

And whose voice was loudest in demanding this new law? Why Boris Johnson of course. Strikes “called on the basis of a very small proportion of the relevant workforce” are “unfair” and “put a terrific psychological burden on people who don’t want to take strike action,” he raged. Legislation should be the ‘Day one‘ priority of a new Tory government, he demanded.

Allister Heath also thinks it’s a good thing:

The proposed reform to strike laws would make it much harder for unions to disrupt essential services and to hold the public to ransom. Under Tory plans, unions seeking to call a strike in health, education, fire and transport would need to convince 40 per cent of the workforce to turn out, as well as convince a majority of those who actually vote. This would prevent most strikes. All of this makes a lot of sense.

Michael Gove is keen too, as is Dominic Raab:

What you can’t have is a very militant minority inflicting maximum damage in vital public service infrastructure on the hard-working majority, when it’s got such little support.

Well we couldn’t have that could we? Inflicting huge costs, massive inconvenience and psychological trauma on the say-so of less that 40 percent of those entitled to vote.

Except that is exactly what has just happened. The Brexit vote has already had a far greater impact than any strike. It’s ramifications will last for years. Even the most optimistic scenario puts the cost to the public sector at an extra £16 billion a year, even allowing for not having to pay EU contributions. The eventual cost to the economy will be huge.

Then there’s the impact on Britain’s standing in the world. Whatever happens after this our power and influence will almost certainly be diminished. And if Boris is worried about the psychological impact of strikes, what the hell does he think things like this are likely to do?

Under the new trade union law, enthusiastically promoted by some of Brexit’s cheerleaders, 37.4 percent wouldn’t be enough for an overtime ban or a work-to-rule, yet it is enough to wreck the economy, destroy the country’s standing in the world and throw 40 years of government policy into the dustbin of history.

It’s no wonder the rest world thinks we have taken leave of our senses.

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16 Responses to 37.4% – not even enough for an overtime ban

  1. Consistency is not of much interest to ideologues.

  2. Jim says:

    Should the same 40% threshold have applied to our signing the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties, or does it only apply to proposals to reduce the power and influence of the EU over the UK?

    • gunnerbear says:

      Well said….the Remainers lost…..f**k ’em. For years I’ve been told I’m a racist, a ‘little Englander’ etc. for pushing for BREXIT……f**k the Remainers….we won.

  3. Jamie Smith says:

    Good point FCFT. Jim, politics and constitutions change over half a century, the argument is that the Tories evidently championed absolute majorities before ignoring them in this case. This article has a point and your response is neither relevant nor current.

    • Jim says:

      Its extremely relevant. There’s a lot of Remainers jumping up and down screaming that its not right that such an important change in public policy should be enacted on the say so of 37% of the electorate. I’m merely pointing out that those people weren’t jumping up and down about the enactment of the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties which were just as important constitutional decisions for the future of the nation. It seems that constitutional changes that result in more European integration don’t require a 40% electoral majority, but the removal of the UK from the EU does.

  4. Simon Jones says:

    @Jim Daft analogy. We authorise our representatives to negotiate things on our behalf (just as union members authorise officials to negotiate pay rises etc). If however the union wants to call a strike it has to ballot its members; the point of this article is that if the government decides to call a referendum on a particular issue (which actually it is not obliged to) then it should be required to work to similar restrictions. Interestingly, the “second referendum” petition was actually started by a pro-Brexit supporter and calls for similar conditions to be met (at least 55% on a 75%+ turnout, if memory serves me correctly)

    • gunnerbear says:

      We won…..live with it. Why do you hate the UK so much that you want it to be ruled from Brussels?

  5. sdbast says:

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  6. Dipper says:

    Its all changed. This referendum has been the political and chattering class’s “pitchfork moment”. We had it in banking in 2008/9. That moment when you realise that all your carefully crafted plans to provide for your future will come to nought if the mob turn up, pitchforks in hand, ready to burn your house down with you and your family in it. You need to reach an accommodation with the great unwashed that means they are comfortable with your level of wealth and living standards.

    Quite a lot of tories have realised this, including Gove. In his speech today he was lambasting the fact that CEO pay had got so far ahead of workers pay, and they then went and avoided paying tax. He referred to the “Entrepreneurial state” which is the title of a book by Mariana Mazzucato who is one of John McDonnell’s favourite economies. He didn’t mention it directly but the context was such that he was clearly referencing that book.

    Labour costs have just gone down by about 10% in international terms so I think we may find policies like this get shelved for a while.

  7. Patricia Leighton says:

    Why are so many Brexiteers so aggressive and foul mouthed. It is possible to debate really serious issues without the F word. And a few less simplistic arguments would help.

  8. Jonny says:

    That’s all well & good but the guidelines set out prior to the debate & subsequent vote were 1 person, 1 vote, & a majority wins.

    This is precisely what happened & a majority of over 1,000,000 voting individuals chose in favour of Brexit. To go against this after all the run up & promises will not only further damage politicians reputations with the masses but will cause civil unrest from a clear majority.

    We made our bed, it’s time to lay in it

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