FDs call for tougher union legislation

By Lois FettisMore than one in three finance directors want the government to do more to curb industrial strike action, according to this week’s Accountancy Age/Reed Accountancy Personnel Big Question.Travel chaos has escalated in recent weeks with pay disputes leading to strike action on South West trains and Arriva Trains Northern with further action threatened as other workers are balloted over strike action.

The government has also argued with trade union leaders over its public private partnership plans – as passengers on London Transport are all too aware – while Manchester airport has been hit by industrial unrest.

Salvatori FD David Tobin said: ‘South Africa had a problem with striking, it crippled the country and business.’

One FD said: ‘They should be a last resort – not a first line of attack in many cases.’

Another said: ‘The actions of the unions cost this country billions.’ He described it as ‘outrageous that they are allowed to strike regardless of the impact on the wider economy.’

And he added: ‘Wages should not be determined by union bullies and blackmail. The sooner the laws are tightened up the better.’

However 43% of the 400 FDs who responded said existing laws were sufficient. ‘Government interference complicates the matter, rather than resolving the main issue,’ said Nene Valley Foods FD Joe Fisher. The right to strike, said another FD, ‘needs to remain the individual prerogative.’

Some 18% of the 400 respondents remained neutral. ‘I know that it is illegal for services to strike – so it should be the same for train drivers!’, said one respondent who was among the majority who asked to remain anonymous. ‘After all don’t they provide a service?’

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