MPs have backed controversial plans to tighten the rules on trade union strikes.

The Trade Union Bill, which seeks to replace striking permanent workers with temporary workers and impose a minimum 50 per cent turnout in strike ballots, passed a second reading at the Commons on Monday evening - the first key hurdle in it being passed as legislation.

As part of the bill, public sector strikes would also require support from 40 per cent of those eligible to vote and the amount of notice unions have to give before a strike would be doubled from one week to two.

It will also force picket organisers to give their name to police, and will introduce fines to unions of up to £20,000 if picketers do not wear official armbands.

Business secretary Sajid Javid has denied that the bill is a “declaration of war” against unions, saying it is necessary to stop “endless” threats of strikes.

(Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

The public, however, believe the bill will give permanent workers less power to defend their pay and conditions, according to a survey of 1,742 by YouGov.

The majority of the public, and all party supporters except Conservatives, also believe that temporary staff will have a negative effect on public services and public safety.

Public services

Public safety

Javid said:

It is not an attempt to ban industrial action. It is not an attack on the rights of working people. It won't force strikers to seek police approval for their slogans or their tweets.

At the heart of this bill, it is all about democracy and accountability.

The TUC general secretary, Frances O'Grady, called the bill the biggest attack on unions in 30 years and Green MP Caroline Lucas described it as "vindictive".

Dennis Skinner of the Labour party said:

It is a travesty and an intrusion into the democracy of the workplace - get rid of it.

The bill, having passed second reading, will now go to the committee stage before needing to be passed by the House of Lords, before final approval in the Commons.

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