News story

Chancellor: Employers must not be held to ransom by unions so they can keep country working

Vital public services must be kept running during strikes by changing the law, says Chancellor George Osborne.

Speaking as the government’s consultation on toughening strike laws comes to a close, Mr Osborne insisted that the right to strike must be better balanced against the right of workers to be able to go about their daily lives.

He signalled his determination to tighten legislation on a joint visit with the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who has been a leading voice calling for reform in the area.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said:

The government is taking forward long overdue law to protect working people - in unions and those who use public services - so that they cannot be held to ransom by a small minority or by union bosses.

This would have prevented a large number of Tube strikes in past few years. The Mayor and I agree: it’s the right thing for working people.

It’s crucial we stand up for working people and this change will deliver a key commitment we made in our manifesto.

This is about ensuring that working people can get on with their lives, children can go to school, and buses and trains are kept running. People should not have to put up with the chaos inflicted by striking unions.

The government is planning to change the law so that strikes require a minimum 50 per cent turnout of members voting in a ballot. Industrial action in important public services will require the active support of 40 per cent of those eligible to vote, regardless of turnout.

The reforms are designed to ensure that waves of disruption cannot be caused on the basis of the votes of a small minority of union members.

The Chancellor made the comments during a visit to the historic Battle of Britain bunker in Uxbridge, alongside the Mayor of London.

This site will benefit from £1 million investment, announced by the Chancellor in the recent Summer Budget after a request from the Mayor to help restore the facility so future generations can learn about its crucial role in defending the nation in 1940.

The new government investment, funded by fines on errant bankers, comes on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and will be in addition to a £4.5 million investment from Hillingdon Council for a state-of-the-art visitor and education centre at the site.