Benefits and ballots – Government puts the boot into workers’ rights

Not content with cutting in-work benefits for low paid workers the government has announced plans to make striking for higher pay even more difficult than it already is, if not completely impossible.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that families with young children could be up to £1,000 a year worse off because of the changes to tax credits. And while some people will benefit from the new minimum wage rate for the over 25s (the so-called national living wage) of £7.20 per hour this is still way below the Living Wage Foundation’s calculation of a living wage of £7.85 (and it’s important to remember that this wage rate is calculated on the assumption that workers are receiving the current level of tax credits).

The plan to impose a 50% turnout threshold on strike ballots, with a ‘yes’ vote of 40% of those eligible to vote, is the most draconian attack on workers’ rights to withdraw their labour in the past 30 years. We all know that strikes are an act of last resort and that many members will support a strike even if they didn’t vote or voted against. UNISON and the TUC have been calling on the government to modernise the way ballots are run – by allowing electronic voting from PCs and Smartphones -to increase participation but this has been refused.

You can read our press statements on the budget here and here and on strike ballots here.