CBI wants new rules to help jobs and hinder strikes

ANY new employment rules must help and not hinder the creation of jobs, business leaders will today demand.

The CBI is calling for the UK government to introduce a "sustainable employment test" to make sure that future legislation on workers' rights helps employers take on extra staff.

The business organisation also wants the rules over industrial action changed so that strikes can only take place if 40 per cent of the balloted workforce support it, as well as a simple majority of those voting.

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News of the CBI's demands comes against a backdrop of industrial unrest, with British Airways cabin crew staging a series of strikes over the spring. The Communication Workers Union issued ballot papers to its members at BT on Friday.

John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: "Strikes cause misery. They also cost the economy dearly and undermine our efforts to help rebuild the economy."

The CBI's Making Britain the Place to Work report, published today, also calls for the right to request flexible working to be extended to all staff.

The report comes as figures from the Bank of Scotland's labour market barometer show that the economic recovery north of the Border lost some momentum in May, with employment and pay rising at weaker rates, while candidate availability growth accelerated.

The barometer fell from 54.3 in April to 52.3 in May. Although the index remained above the 50 "no-change" threshold, it was well below the UK-wide indicator, which stood at 56.4.

But the bank also reported that appointments in both the permanent and temporary sectors increased, while the number of vacancies available to job seekers also rose markedly.

Donald MacRae, chief economist at Bank of Scotland, said: "We can expect a continuing but muted recovery from recession."

The figures come ahead of a meeting at technology firm Oracle's offices in Linlithgow tomorrow, when 200 business leaders and trade unionists will meet with 60 young people to create an action plan to create jobs and tackle poverty.

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Participants include Scottish skills minister Keith Brown and staff from the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.