Is mandatory arbitration the answer to public transport strikes?

With the Olympics approaching and not all the details of staff conditions on London’s public transport settled, talk of how easy or not it should be to call a strike is often popping up in political debates. The answer from many Conservatives is to make strikes harder by demanding a minimum turnout threshold for strikes. That idea often runs into criticism and the one time I’ve sent a tweet which trended on the front page of Twitter’s website in its old guise was when I pointed out that the turnout threshold Boris Johnson was talking about was higher than the turnout in his own election.

However, there is a different possibly answer available from Australia: allow the government to impose independent arbitration if a strike action will cause serious disruption to the country. The scope for discretion by the government and the definition of serious are not trivial issues, having caused some political controversy in Australia over the Qantas strike for example.

So as a principle what do you think: is this a sensible approach that reduces strikes but without making the power of each side in labour relations unbalanced?

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