Trade Union Bill Published Today


The Government has today published its Trade Union Bill with the stated purpose to, ‘ensure hardworking people are not disrupted by little-supported strike action’.

Trade Unions

In brief, its most important provisions mean that:

  • industrial action will require a 50% turnout on the ballot
  • where the industrial action affects important public services 40% of all eligible voters must vote in favour of the action
  • employers will be able to use agency staff to cover striking workers
  • for ballots taking place after the Act comes into force, there will be a 4 month limit on a strike mandate, after which another ballot will be required
  • there will be (even) more specific requirements for the wording of the ballot paper
  • there will be no more automatic opt-ins to political donations from trade union subscription fees will be banned
  • he amount of notice of a strike to be given to an employer will be increased from 7 to 14 days

Joy Drummond, Partner in Simpson Millar’s Employment Department comments:

“I have been advising trade unions on industrial action since before the introduction of the balloting requirements. In my experience union officials only seek a mandate to take action reluctantly, as a last resort, and when their members are strongly pressing them to so because the employer has stopped negotiating and they feel they have no other option. Union members are, 'hard working people' too. If the Government really wants their wishes to be reflected they should instead simplify the torturous web of complicated and, in many cases, badly drafted requirements that often lead to protracted litigation which is expensive for unions and employers which can result in industrial action being banned on a technicality even where the ballot result in favour of action is overwhelming and the turn out, high."

"It is wrong to assume that interests of trade union members and consumers are in conflict. It is nearly always the opposite."

"This is also a wasted opportunity to allow electronic voting, to give a greater and more accessible opportunity to vote and be more cost efficient."

A full copy of the bill can be downloaded here.

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