Low turnouts should sound death knell for Tory moves against unions

16 November 2012

Low turnouts in the elections for police commissioners should "sound the death knell" for Tory-led calls for thresholds in trade union ballots.

With the first results coming in for elections held yesterday for the new police chiefs it is clear that participation has been very low.

Tory candidate Angus Macpherson was elected in Wiltshire on a 15.3% turnout and some areas are reporting lower levels of voting.

Turnout in the Manchester Central parliamentary by-election was 18.16%, believed to be the lowest in a by-election since World War II.

When in June 2011 PCS balloted all its members in the civil and public services for industrial action over cuts to pay, pensions and jobs the turnout was 32.4%.

The reality is that laws brought in by a previous Tory government, and left in place by Labour, mean union members are restricted to a postal vote in strike ballots, which suppresses participation.

The union has long argued for reform of union election ballots to allow alternative voting methods, including secure, independently-verified online, phone and workplace polling.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Everyone wants a thriving democracy and better participation, but these low turnouts in the police elections should sound the death knell for the shrill Tory-led cries for thresholds for union ballots.

“We have consistently argued for reform of union ballots so instead of trying to score political points every time we have a vote, the government should talk to us about extending outdated postal voting to the use of modern technology.”


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