Theme: Political Economy | Content Type: Journal article

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Why Strike Ballots are Undemocratic

Ben Saunders

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Joy Stamp

| 1 min read

Since 2016, new legislation governing strike ballots has made it more difficult for trade unions to achieve a mandate for industrial action. Such a mandate now requires that a majority of members vote in the ballot. This article argues that these balloting processes are undemocratic. The turnout requirement means that a mandate for industrial action does not simply depend on its level of popular support amongst union members. This has surprising consequences. Sometimes opponents of action would be better advised to abstain, rather than to vote against it. Thus, it is not always clear how they should vote. Whatever they do, their actions may be counterproductive. Further, even when they do know how best to promote their desired outcome, there may be a conflict between voting strategically and clearly expressing their true preferences. Consequently, there is no guarantee that the outcome of the ballot accurately reflects what people really want.

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    Ben Saunders

    Ben Saunders is an Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Southampton.

    Articles by Ben Saunders
Volume 95, Issue 1

Latest journal

Volume 95, Issue 1

Includes a collection on the Future of Public Service Broadcasting, edited by Suzanne Franks and Jean Seaton. This features articles such as 'The Governance of the BBC' by Diane Coyle; 'A Public Service Internet - Reclaiming the Public Service Mission' by Helen Jay; and 'BBC Funding: Much Ado about the Cost of a Coffee a Week' by Patrick Barwise. There are a wide range of other articles including 'Back to the Stone Age: Europe's Mainstream Right and Climate Change’ by Mitya Pearson and 'Labour, the Unions and Proportional Representation' by Cameron Rhys Herbert. Finally, there is a selection of book reviews such as Lyndsey Jenkins's review of Fighting For Life: The Twelve Battles that Made Our NHS and the Struggle for Its Future by Isabel Hardman, and Victoria Brittain's review of Three Worlds, Memoirs of an Arab-Jew by Avi Shlaim.

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