Newham Recorder Big Debate: Are the new strike laws asking too much of trade unions?

When the Queen's Speech was read last Wednesday, it included many new proposals to toughen up trade union strike laws. At present, strikes are valid if they are backed by a majority of those balloted and ballots do not require a specific level of participation. However new laws would require there to be a ballot turnout of 50 per cent and 40 per cent must then back strike action. This week we ask: "Are the new strike laws asking too much of trade unions?"

Festus Akinbusoye, former Conservative candidate for West Ham

The Conservative Party won the recent general election on a platform of supporting those who want to work and get on in life while ensuring that aspiration is fully supported and everyone feels the benefit of economic growth.

I believe the plans to reform industrial action in Britain are long overdue, are a pro-workers proposal and are pro-economy too.

There's a proposal to ensure at least 50% of all those eligible to vote on a strike ballot actually vote, with a 40% vote in support of industrial action being criteria for it to be legal.

Some commentators have said this will make industrial actions impossible. Very untrue.

Strikes are designed to cause as much disruption in order to achieve an end and given that these reforms will mainly affect those in the public sector, such as transport workers, teachers and healthcare workers, it is right the bar is raised. Many hardworking Newham residents know only too well what happens when teachers strike or the Tube is shut down.

Some of the recent strikes have been carried out with about 10pc support from those balloted. This means that the overwhelming majority of public sector workers did not vote for strike action but have to hang up their tools.

This needs to change.

We need to keep Britain moving forward. Industrial actions and trade unions play an important role in preserving workers' rights but this proposed legislation will not eliminate these.

If anything, it is designed to give greater legitimacy to strike action when taken.