The government today confirms its plans to raise the voting threshold for union members to take industrial action.

The Trade Union Bill will prevent members from going on strike unless there is at least a 50% turnout for the ballot.

In the health, education, fire, transport, border security and energy sectors, the government will impose an additional 40% threshold of support from all members eligible to vote for industrial action to happen.

The bill will also set a four-month time limit for industrial action and require a clear description of the trade dispute and the planned strike on the ballot paper.

The government will ensure ‘greater scrutiny and controls’ over public subsidies to trade unions to pay for full-time union representatives.

The changes were promised in the Conservative party election manifesto and announced in the Queen's speech in May.

Business secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘Trade unions have a constructive role to play in representing their members’ interests but our one nation government will balance their rights with those of working people and business.

’These changes are being introduced so that strikes only happen when a clear majority of those entitled to vote have done so and all other possibilities have been explored.’

Consultation on the proposed 40% threshold for important public sectors will be open until September.

The unions are likely to vehemently oppose any restriction on industrial action and attempt to impose higher thresholds for a mandate to strike.

The TUC said in January that the plans would create the most limiting rules on industrial action of any democracy in the world. Unions say turnout would be higher if secure and secret online ballots were allowed. Under the Trade Union Act 1984 votes are cast by post and cannot be held in the workplace.

However the Confederation of British Industry welcomed the new legislation. Katja Hall, deputy director-general said: 'The introduction of thresholds is an important, but fair, step to ensure that strikes have the clear support of the workforce.

'We welcome the consultation on modernising picketing rules.  Intimidation or harassment of individuals is never acceptable – and we want to see the current code of practice put on a statutory footing and penalties increased to drive out bad behaviour.'