The Liberal Democrats passed policy at their spring conference last weekend to ban groups of workers from striking.
Their new policy would force unions to seek binding arbitration in disputes where industrial action “could impact on the wider economy”.
The motion, passed overwhelmingly by the conference, could be used against any strike the government decides “will cause far reaching damage to the economy and national interest”. Recent action by the railworkers’ RMT and firefighters’ FBU unions were singled out as examples of strikes that would be banned.
Referring to the firefighters’ strike two years ago, Lib Dem councillor Alan Sherwell said, “Think how much better the fire service would be today if this procedure had been followed.”
Phillip Goldenburg, another councillor, added that the strike ban was about “basic Liberal principles”. Both Sherwell and Goldenburg sit on the Lib Dem working group on trade unions.
The new policy will anger the RMT and FBU. Both unions have been forced to reassess their relationship with New Labour. The RMT was expelled from the party and the FBU recently disaffiliated.