Lib Dems defending trade union rights

An article by Newshound from Lib Dem Voice

Well, there’s a turn-up for the books. A former Business Secretary teams up with the head of the TUC to warn about the draconian effects of the Trade Union Bill introduced by the Government.

In an article for the Guardian, Vince Cable and Frances O’Grady say that the Bill is trying to resolve a problem that doesn’t exist. Anyone who was brought up in the 70s would surely find it hard to argue that today is even remotely as bad as it was then. They say:

“Strikes, when they happen, are not always popular. The public, and business, face disruption. Strikers themselves lose pay. But the right to withdraw labour as a last resort in industrial disputes is fundamental to free societies, as the European Convention on Human Rights recognises.”

“Moreover, it is far from obvious that Britain has a “strike problem”. There have been periods in 20th-century history of intense industrial strife. But in the 1990s and 2000s strikes accounted for well under a million days a year. The trend continued under the coalition, despite strong disagreements over pay, pensions and redundancies. The 6.5 million British people who belong to a union – just over a quarter of the labour force and over half of public sector workers – withdrew their labour, on average, for one day in 15 years.”

Of course, the Tories wanted to bring in this Bill during the coalition years, but the Liberal Democrats stopped them:

“Several major changes are envisaged, all of which were considered by the coalition and rejected on their merits by Lib Dem ministers (who had absolutely no self-interest in defending trade unions that sometimes seemed as angry with them as the Conservatives, if not more). But the Lib Dems simply regarded the proposals as ideologically driven, unnecessary and bad policy.”

After looking at the proposals in detail, they conclude that there is a much better way to prevent strikes – constructive dialogue:

“The Conservative proposals are ideological rather than practical and have a weak evidential and legal basis. An opportunity is being missed to work with unions on a positive and forward-looking basis. Unions represent a substantial and, now, growing proportion of the workforce. Many good employers, private and public sector, work constructively with unions to raise productivity, and thence pay. As the TUC has argued, we should be seeking to strengthen industrial democracy, involving the workforce in genuine consultation around the transition to a digital age, in training and worker education and – yes – in pay differentials from top to bottom.”

Vince Cable condemns Tory strike ballot plans

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Vince Cable has criticised Conservative proposals to make it harder to call industrial action affecting health services, transport, fire or schools. Under the plans, the backing of 40% of eligible union members would be required for strike action to go ahead. The Liberal Democrat MP said: “Setting a mandatory 40% level of support for strike action seems odd when MPs do not need to reach such a high hurdle to get elected… Industrial relations in the UK are good and the Conservatives would do well to turn their attention to creating a fairer society.”

Vince Cable – Osborne’s tax cut ‘fantasy’

Vince Cable, a voice we should all take note of on economic matters in my view, has warned that Treasury insiders are increasingly concerned that promises made by George Osborne to cut taxes by £7bn appear increasingly unaffordable.

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“When you look at the numbers, tax cuts on any significant scale are simply not deliverable unless you make horrific cuts to key public services such as the police and defence. Technically, of course, you can always make tax cuts, but if you are to avoid hitting services you would have to put up other taxes or cut services massively. It is total fantasy to suggest otherwise.”

Ignoring the man who widely predicted the economic collapse of 2007 when other politicians buried their heads in the sand is hardly wise. The Tories are either promising big tax cuts on the backs of the poor or they will ruin our economic recovery to deliver unfunded tax cuts because they are running scared of UKIP.

The Observer ran this story.

With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this story.

Cable: Strike law change “potty”

Vince Cable has described David Cameron’s plans to change strike laws as “simply potty”. It is understood that the Conservatives are considering plans to legislate that strikes can only be held if a threshold of 50% of the membership is reached in any ballot.

Don’t you just love it when politicians say what they really mean rather than communicating with us in ‘Westminster’ speak. A potty Tory policy indeed!

With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this story.