One of the government’s first bills will make striking virtually impossible. Sajid Javid, the new business secretary, will outlaw any strike not voted for by at least 40% of eligible union members. Turnouts must reach 50%. Current “scab” laws that ban employers from hiring temporary agency staff to fill in for strikers will be abolished.
Are trade unions too powerful? The mythology of the 1979 winter of discontent is deep-dyed in the Tory political psyche – those bodies unburied, that rubbish piled up in parks. That gave Margaret Thatcher the chance to demolish trade union rights. But along with abolition of the car park show-of-hands votes and intimidatory closed shops, went their power and influence over how national incomes are shared out.
Any analysis of the British economy over the past 40 years shows how the decline of union power since the early 1980s has coincided with the fall in the proportion of GDP that goes to pay, and the rise of profits.