I think that Brian Bruce, (Mercury Letters November) has missed the point. There has indeed been some very bad employment legislation in recent decades. However, I do not think that the consequences were ‘unforseen’. Far from it.
Trade unions have to have ballots before strikes. Fair enough, you might say, and in most cases that would be right. But what if everyone in a workplace is united and wants to walk off the job now?
What is the purpose of the extra tier of bureaucracy of organising a ballot, when everyone is already in agreement? In any other organisation, if a meeting is in a unanimous agreement, then you do not waste everyone’s time by having a vote, but employment legislation is different, making it harder for workers to defend themselves.
Strike ballots also have to give notice to an employer. What for? People could be striking against something that they have not been given any notice for.
How come employers can spontaneously bring in attacks on working people, but a response has to be delayed? Clearly that is not fair.
‘Secondary’ industrial action is banned. Why? The best way to guarantee that you have a job with decent pay, pensions and working conditions is to work in a society where everyone has decent pay, pensions and working conditions.
Therefore solidarity action that helps other people in the same boat, but at a different location, often makes sense. But employment law says that you cannot take solidarity action unless you have a direct interest. And, just in case you think you have got a direct interest, see above, a judge can decide for you that you have not got an interest after all, and tell you to stop.
These were all changes brought in by Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives. They hated working people getting a fair deal, and have tried to make it harder. ‘Badly drafted’? Certainly. But ‘unforseen’? Sadly not. They knew what they were doing all along.
Harrowby Road, Grantham