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to think that a strike ballot with less than 50% turn out should not be considered valid?

(39 Posts)
wannaBe Wed 15-Jun-11 12:27:06

so NUT members have voted in favour of strike action


According to that article, 9 out of 10 members voted in favour of strike action, so essentially that would be a figure of 90%, no?

Except that only 40% of those balloted actually voted, which means the "9 out of 10 teachers voted for strike action" figure is actually a lot closer to 3.6 out of 10 (36%).

Hardly an overwhelming support for strike action.

So clearly 60% of NUT members either don't want to strike or don't care enough to vote on it.

Surely a ballot result with such a low turn out should not be considered valid or carry any weight.

And fwiw this is not about teachers - I've had the same opinions about tube drivers/BA staff etc when voting in the past, it's just that this particular one has been so low as to be laughable.

londonone Wed 15-Jun-11 12:35:15

Surely the same should go for elections then as well. What was the turnout in the last local elections out of interest? Under 50% I would think

Mumwithadragontattoo Wed 15-Jun-11 12:38:18

No it should be on the majority of people that voted.

reinitindear Wed 15-Jun-11 12:38:31

I agree with londonone many elections have a lower turnout than 50% so therefore should they also be counted as invalid?
If members wish to vote against action they should vote if not they have to go along with the majority of those that did vote.

Mumwithadragontattoo Wed 15-Jun-11 12:38:36

Like elections.

meditrina Wed 15-Jun-11 12:45:03

Different for a have different rules on a quorum. For example, Parliament has a quorum of 40. Other bodies I have served on have had a quorum (eg student council had a quorum of 30%). There is a difference between voting for representation and voting for action.

I would have no objection in principle to setting a quorum on a vote for action, and indeed it would have an advantage in showing a clear level of support that is required.

O think teachers are going to have difficulties in carrying public support for this action anyhow, and the low turnout isn't going to help them in this.

wannaBe Wed 15-Jun-11 12:45:15

with the referendum the turnout had to be more than 40%.

The difference between an election and a vote for such action is that unions are well known for employing bully-boy tactics and intimidating members who step over picket lines (referring in general here not this union in particular), so I would imagine that many people don't vote against for fear of intimidation and are thus forced to strike and go without pay for that day rather than face that.

The fact is that the vast vast majority of teachers do not feel strongly enough about this issue to vote on it.

aliceliddell Wed 15-Jun-11 12:46:06

what londonone said. Interestingly, this is proposed by a Prime Minister who couldn't get a majority, in a recession against an unpopular incumbent, propped up by a coalition that nobody voted for, enacting policies that were in no manifesto, and in some cases totally overturned 'pledges' publicly signed, which will be enforced by local councils elected on a turnout of 35%. I'm thinking pots calling kettles and people in glass houses. This policy to fightm cuts by industrial action has already been validated at the union conferences by democratically elected reps anyway.

Clytaemnestra Wed 15-Jun-11 12:49:49

The election turn out was 61.5% I believe.

Could an alternative be, if you don't vote, you're not allowed to go on strike?

TeaAndToast68 Wed 15-Jun-11 12:50:58

it's just a ploy to make it more difficult for people to strike.

To test your sincerity:

Suppose 52% of those eligible to vote, vote for a strike.

Later, a settlement is offered.

Only 49% of those eligible to vote, do so. Of them, 90% vote to go back to work. Would you say this was not a sufficiently representative result, and the workers should all stay on strike?

vickibee Wed 15-Jun-11 12:53:53

does this mean that all Union Members have to strike even though they didn't bother to vote?

Clytaemnestra Wed 15-Jun-11 12:55:50

TeaAndToast68 - if they're out on strike, yes. It does have to work both ways. The whole point is that is a majority verdict, and if the majority of those are striking are not happy with it (e.g. they vote no OR don't vote) then they're happier to stay on strike, losing money for every day they're off. Even if they're not voting, they're literally putting their money where their mouth is.

Clytaemnestra Wed 15-Jun-11 12:56:30

vickibee - yes

londonone Wed 15-Jun-11 12:57:23

Clytaemnestra - general election yess, the turnout for local elections is much lower, can be below 30% in some areas

feckwit Wed 15-Jun-11 12:58:59

I think that if you join a union, you do so in order to have a voice and access to representation throughout your working life. If you have no interest in registering your opinion and cannot be bothered to vote on issues, then why should you expect representation in the future?

But in answer, I think if you join a union, voting should be compulsary as long as there is a "no opinion" option. And I have no respect for a result where so few people could be bothered to register their opinion.

I think voting in the general election should be compulsary too by the way!

sparklingchampagne Wed 15-Jun-11 12:59:16

As far as i am aware, since 1945 no government has received a majority of the vote (ie over 50%)
So by your reckoning, no government since 1945 is valid either.

TeaAndToast68 Wed 15-Jun-11 13:01:16

not unless they cared enough to join the Union. If they are of the belief that the strike is wring they have the power, some might say the duty, to vote against it. It's no use ignoring a vote anfd then grumbling later, whether it's for a government or a strike.

If they did choose to join the union, and they choose not to act with it, they are likely to go down in the opinion of their fellows, but they don't "have" to in the sense of going to prison if they don't.

Didn't you know that?

wordfactory Wed 15-Jun-11 13:02:03

But voting in an election is fairly complex...whereas a strike ballot is simply yes or no.

Surely where 70% couldn't be arsed to say one way or the other, you can'y say it's a mandate for strike?

TeaAndToast68 Wed 15-Jun-11 13:02:44

sorry, I was replying to the question "does this mean that all Union Members have to strike even though they didn't bother to vote?"

too slow blush

Clytaemnestra Wed 15-Jun-11 13:06:03

I think there is a difference between voting for a representative and voting for an action.

For representation "I don't care" is a valid option in and of itself. You're picking which candidate, not whether to have a candidate or not.

For an action, I believe it needs to be carried by people who positively vote yes, so "I don't care" is not a positive response, hence counts as a no.

So, if the question was "Should we strike for a week or a month" then majority of votes, even if only three people vote, should rule. If the question is "Should we strike", then you should get a majority of yes ideally, but if you can't even get 50% of the members to give a crap either way then I think that should not hold as a positive yes vote for action.

lecce Wed 15-Jun-11 13:18:38

*But voting in an election is fairly complex...whereas a strike ballot is simply yes or no.

Surely where 70% couldn't be arsed to say one way or the other, you can'y say it's a mandate for strike?*

I think it is a little more complicated than "Yes I want to strike," or "No I don't want to." actually. A lot of people I work with, escpecially younger teachers, are very concerned about the government's proposals and broadly support the proposed action. However, they also feel guilty and nervous about striking. Some of them don't want to be the ones who actually cause the strike, but are more than happy to support it once others have taken the lead.

It is, ime, a nonsense to say that most teachers are unconcerned about the proposals because all the ones I know most definitely are very concerned but so many seem to have the attitude that there's no point in fighting it, or that someone else will have to take responsibility for doing so. Very frustrating.

TeaAndToast68 Wed 15-Jun-11 13:35:33

IMO there is a question of democracy here, but it is being influenced by whether people are in favour of the right to strike, or wish to restrict it in any way possible. I know which side Cameron is on.

If we look at it as a question of democracy, we can decide that a turnout of less that x% of those entitled to vote is not satisfactory. We have in all conscience to apply to Cameron's election as much as to a strike vote.

It does make things more difficult, for example we would have had to put in an interim goverment and held another election. And what do you do if the "go back to work" vote doesn't get x% turnout? Stay off forever?

My preference is for a simple majority of those voting. IMO voting is a duty and if you can't be arsed to vote you have no right to bitch about the result.

IndigoBell Wed 15-Jun-11 14:01:27

Don't teachers pretty much have to join a union so that they're legally protected if they're accused of something?????????

Clytaemnestra Wed 15-Jun-11 14:04:21

Imagine if we were going to vote in a referendum about going to war on the other side of the world. 30% of the country voted as 70% of the country felt disenfranchised, thought it was too far away and didn't affect them, or simply didn't care.

Out of that 30% who voted, 66% voted for war. So approx. 20% of the country wanted to go to war.

Would people be saying that they had a mandate for war? When 80% of the country either didn't want to or didn't care? Should we go to war?

TeaAndToast68 Wed 15-Jun-11 14:57:20

IMO voting is a duty and if you can't be arsed to vote you have no right to bitch about the result.

so my answer would be, if you don't want (e.g.) to go to war, make sure you vote against it.

Chance would be a fine thing, though.

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