Aslef drivers at Earl's Court depot on the District Line voted by a 77.8% majority for strikes over abuses of the SPAD policy, intending to join their colleagues at Acton depot who struck over similar issues on Friday 13 April.
However, the union is not able to call a lawful strike, as only 39.2% of those eligible to vote voted yes, rather than the 40% required in "essential services" by the Tories' 2016 Trade Union Act.
These are criteria and thresholds not applied in any other area of democratic life. Many Tory MPs and councillors would not have been able to take office if electoral law required at least 40% of the eligible electorate to vote for an individual candidate in order for them to win!
Aslef has already said it will re-ballot at Earl's Court. But as these laws continue to constrain our right to withdraw our labour, which is a basic principle far more essentially democratic than arbitrary turnout thresholds and restrictions, the trade union movement needs to seriously consider confronting these laws. At some point, a union will need to have the courage to call a strike anyway, even if the threshold has been narrowly missed, and appeal to the financial and political solidarity of the wider labour movement to deal with any potential consequences. Quite simply, unjust laws deserve to be broken.