45 per cent Boris wants 50 per cent strike turn out threshold
Boris Johnson was elected Mayor of London in an election where the turn out was 45.3 per cent.
But he wants industrial action ballots to be valid only if the turn out is greater than 50 per cent.
As well as the obvious whiff of double standards, it’s a bizarre proposal when you examine the detail.
Imagine a workforce of 1,000 balloting for strike action: 499 vote in favour with none against. On Boris rules, that is not a legal ballot for strike action as the turn out is less than 50%.
They decide to vote again. This time 251 vote for a strike and 250 vote against. Despite support for action dropping by almost half, it’s a valid ballot as the turn out is greater than 50 per cent.
One of the objections to the CBI proposal that industrial action ballots should require 40 per cent of the electorate to vote yes is that it means abstentions count as a no vote.
But Boris has invented a system in which an abstention is a more effective vote against than a no vote. Go back to the example second ballot. If just three of the no votes abstained, the turn out would fall below 50 per cent and that would make the ballot invalid.
We should probably take the CBI proposals a little more seriously. The TUC’s Sarah Veale dealt with these on Left Foot Forward when they first issued them in July so I won’t go through them in detail here. Brendan Barber picked up this point:
‘It is particularly disappointing for the CBI to take such a one-dimensional view of industrial relations in which strikes are always the fault of unions, and never that of management. Strikes are always a last resort as union members lose their pay.
There’s an even more basic point. Strikes may sometimes be unpopular and inconvenient, but just think what it would be like to live in a society where strikes were effectively illegal and unions had no power. Wages and conditions would be worse for ordinary people every day of every year. There is a reason why freedom of association is in every significant human rights charter.