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Freelancers could help prevent a winter of discontent

The CBI wants to see the government make legal changes that would allow employers to hire freelancers and agency temps to cover for strike action.

The Confederation has published its recommendations in a report that says disruption would be minimised if employment relations legislation was modernised.

Under the current system, employers have to recruit their temporary staff directly, but this obviously takes time and delays occur while the recruitment process is underway. To help relieve some of this pressure from employers, the CBI would also like to see the notice period for strike action increased from the current 7 days to 14 days so that businesses have more time to prepare.

The deputy director-general of the CBI, John Cridland, acknowledged that whilst workers have the legal right to strike, employers also have a responsibility to keep their business functioning.

Kevin Green, the chief executive of the REC is backing the CBI's call. He believes that the Government austerity measures will lead to increased industrial action and when that happens it is vital that employers can continue to provide public services to the most vulnerable people in our society.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, takes a slightly different slant on the subject of strikes, saying that the coalition should pass legislation prohibiting strike action unless at least 50% of the workplace's union members take part in a ballot.

London has recently experienced a series of day-long strikes on the Underground system which have caused chaos for commuters.

However, the TUC has dismissed the call for a change in the strike law, saying that the employment law restrictions concerning the right to withdraw labour in the UK are some of the toughest in the western world. In fact at the TUC annual meeting last month, delegates were urged to fight against the government's spending cuts.

Unless there is some sort of change to the current legislation, it looks like we are in for a winter of discontent.

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Image: October 4th Tube Strike -- The Roundel Caged by C. G. P. Grey