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Unions slam ‘missed opportunity’ as report urges trials of online strike votes

The TUC urged the Government to stop “dragging its feet” over e-balloting for strike ballots.

An official review into electronic voting for industrial action ballots has been described as a “missed opportunity” after it recommended trials should be held first.

The report for the Government, by former fire chief Sir Ken Knight, said there were a number of “unanswered questions” surrounding e-balloting.

“I am not persuaded that e-balloting for industrial action ballots can be introduced immediately. Instead, I recommend that a test of e-balloting on non-statutory ballots is necessary as a preliminary step,” said Sir Ken.

The report said the resilience of e-balloting to cyber attack and hacking should be tested, as well as an evaluation of the impact on the number of workers taking part.

Should e-voting be adopted, Sir Ken said it was important to retain the option of postal voting.

The TUC called on the Government to stop “dragging its feet” and allow electronic voting in strike ballots.

General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Unions will engage with any pilots but today’s review is a missed opportunity.

“Union members should have access to the same modern balloting methods as other organisations. If it’s safe and secure for political parties to elect candidates and leaders online, why can’t unions have electronic ballots?

“It’s time to bring union balloting into the 21st century. The Government must stop dragging its feet on this issue.”

The TUC pointed out that the Conservative Party elected its London mayoral candidate through online voting in 2016, and in 2015 and 2016 Labour balloted members electronically for its leadership contest.

Unions are required to run postal ballots for all statutory ballots and elections, including industrial action ballots, general secretary elections, and those on union mergers and political funds.

Many unions already use online voting for non-statutory elections, including seeking members’ views on pay offers and other elections.

The Government said it will consider Sir Ken’s review and respond in due course.

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