Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Strike ballot challenge dismissed

Len McCluskey has hailed a court ruling which, he said, defended workers' right to strike

A legal challenge by a leading construction firm against a strike ballot in a long-running row over pay and conditions has been dismissed.

Unite welcomed a High Court ruling against Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES) over the ballot, which saw a 2-1 vote in favour of industrial action.

Len McCluskey, Unite's general secretary, said: "This is a historic ruling that supports our members' legitimate right to strike.

"All too often employers are trying to use the courts to undermine the democratic will of their workforces, when they should be putting their energies into resolving disputes.

"We trust that employers will now recognise that disputes aren't settled in the courtroom but around the negotiating table."

BBES had tried to halt the prospect of strike action by challenging the ballot of electricians, plumbers, heating and ventilating engineers.

Unite is in dispute with several construction firms, claiming they are trying to cut pay and conditions and de-skill the industry.

In his ruling Mr Justice Eady said: "It seems to me that, so far as reasonably practical, every person entitled to vote had a voting paper sent to him/her and also was afforded a convenient opportunity to vote by post.

"Indeed, I think it fair to say that Unite went to considerable lengths to ensure democratic legitimacy which might be thought to exceed what would ordinarily be expected."

Balfour Beatty successfully challenged an earlier Unite ballot.

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