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What Does The Biggest Trade Union Crackdown Mean For You?

View profile for Theresa Carling
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Whilst Tilly, Bailey & Irvine generally act for employers in their disputes with employees, it is difficult to ignore that the influence of Trade Unions has proven helpful in improving the working lives of millions of employees. The current government however, think that the rights of collective action have gone too far in recent years.  As many of you will have seen in the media, new plans by the Government confirm the biggest crackdown on trade union rights for some thirty years.

In brief, there will be the following changes:

  • Unlawful picketing will be criminalised;
  • Employers will be entitled to hire strike-breaking agency staff:
  • There will be a need for 50% or more of those being asked to strike to vote in the ballot, with 40% of those required to make the strike lawful.

This double threshold would have to be met in strikes involving health, education, fire, transport, border security and energy sectors where recent strikes have caused the most disruption.

There are further changes which will require all unions, not just those affiliated to Labour, to ask each individual trade union member whether they would like to pay the political levy element of their union subs, and then repeat this question every five years. Notably, £25m is raised annually for 4.5m political levy payers, which is a chief source of income for Labour.

Unlawful or intimidatory picketing will become a criminal as opposed to a civil offence and protections will be made available for employees unwilling to strike. A named official will be required to make him or herself available at all times to the Police to oversee any picketing and ensure compliance with an existing code of conduct.

After the utter chaos caused by the recent Tube strikes, there is a clear view that the current Government is seeking to curtail problematic situations in the future and that these changes will ensure that there are no disruptions caused at short notice by a strike with only a small proportion of union members.

Obviously these reforms are not cast iron as yet and we await any changes with interest.

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