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Unions attack strike ballot reforms

Government plans to reform strike ballots will come under attack by delegates at a leading union conference, with complaints that the move is an "outright assault" on the right to take industrial action.

Ministers have unveiled plans to make union strike ballots unlawful unless they achieve a 50% turnout, while those in public services such as health, education and the fire service will need the backing of 40% of those eligible to vote.

The GMB union will discuss the issue at its annual conference in Dublin today, when delegates will voice strong opposition.

One motion describes the proposed thresholds as "undemocratic and unrealistic", with no other elections, such as those for MPs "encumbered" with such restrictions.

Another reads: "This pledge is nothing more than an outright assault on the right to strike, and is intended to swing the balance of industrial power even further towards the employers in this country."

The conference is expected to back a campaign against any "back door restriction" on the right to strike.

The Government's move has come amid an upsurge in industrial unrest in recent weeks, with a threatened strike in Network Rail over pay, which has been averted, and disputes building up at other rail companies, the fire service and at Tata Steel.

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