Oh Vince, I'm really not sure this was wise.
And why on earth is a Liberal Democrat going like a lamb to the slaughter threatening to visit some unspecified restriction of the right to withdraw labour on naughty unions if they don't play nice?
Don't get me wrong, I don't always think that union decisions are either sensible or helpful. And I do think that some of them are loving playing a 70s or 80s style class war, to the detriment of their members' interests. But, if a majority of people voting want to go on strike, then surely they have to be allowed to. They may not have public support for what they are doing, and it may hurt the economy, and it may be highly disruptive - but surely they have to have the right.
Way back in the 70s, it scared the living daylights out of me to see these huge mass meetings where people voted for strike action without any secret ballot. The potential for intimidation was obvious and for that reason, much if not all of the union legislation passed in the 80s was reasonable.
There was no way the GMB were going to do anything other than boo Vince today - they probably would have done anyway. What he's done is give them an excuse to cry foul.
I hope that our people aren't going to get involved in introducing any turnout limits, for example. Saying that there has to be 40% of the union in favour of strike action, rather than 40% of those voting seems to fly in the face of everything we believe about the legitimacy of public elections. By that logic, when exactly would we last have had a legitimate Government in the UK?
I have been very concerned about the idea that the Government might water down employment rights, particularly access to tribunals, or increase in the length of qualifying periods. Jo Swinson asked specifically about any watering down of the Equality Act the other week and was told it wouldn't happen, which is a good sign, but I really don't want employers being given a sign that it's fine to treat their employees badly just at the time when unions are told their right to do anything about it will be tampered with if they, er, use their current, perfectly legal right to strike.
I really don't think winding up the unions is the right tack to take and is likely to make things worse rather than better. It makes destructive industrial action a lot more likely.
The Government actually needs to be calm and conciliatory with the unions. Anything else subscribes to their narrative that this is the 80s all over again.