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Union tactics criticised ahead of “general strike” of public workers

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Unions representing teachers, firefighters, civil servants and other public workers have gone on strike today, but have faced criticism for basing the decision on low turnouts on member ballots. The National Union of Teachers is relying on a ballot from 2012.

Reports suggest that just one in five members of the PCS voted to strike, one in seven members of Unite and one in ten at Unison

Francis Maude, the cabinet office minister, told MailOnline that the “unnecessary” strike could cost the economy up to £250m.

The IoD has said that the Government should investigate changing the rules governing when unions can call a strike.

The group’s director-general, Simon Walker, said: “Nobody wants to undermine the valuable work of trade unions, but a political fringe among the leadership is at risk of doing just that.

“To counter this growing disconnect between senior trade unionists and their membership, we urge the Government to investigate enforcing a minimum turnout in strike ballots, or a requirement that a majority of members who receive a ballot paper vote in favour before a strike can go ahead.”

Unite, the union which represents 1.42m workers in a range of workplaces, has also faced criticism for “leverage” tactics, which critics say involve intimidation and confrontation. Members protested outside the home of an Ineos executive during recent industrial action at the Grangemouth refinery. 

Walker added: “Unite’s material calls on workers to view employers as the enemy who must be defeated. This attitude is beyond archaic, and should be consigned to the dustbin of industrial relations along with flying pickets and the closed shop.”

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