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08 September 2017

Taking industrial action – A legal guide

UK laws on industrial action were already some of the most restrictive in the developed world before the draconian Trade Union Act 2016 came into force. The TUC described it as “the most serious attack on the rights of trade unions and their members in a generation”, introducing an additional layer of restrictions on balloting, notice of strike action and picketing.

However far from nullifying industrial action, there has been a wave of ongoing, well-supported industrial action, with more balloting in the pipeline expected to produce positive results. Forthcoming union ballots for industrial action include 200,000 PCS civil service union members over the 1% pay cap; 100,000 CWU Royal Mail members over pension scheme changes and other working conditions; and RMT contract cleaner members working for Southern, Southeastern and Govia Thameslink train operating companies over pay and working conditions.

The LRD’s latest booklet, Taking industrial action – A legal guide, aims to further help union reps and negotiators understand the legal restrictions, navigate them and discover what they can do within the confines of the Trade Union Act 2016. It also looks at other types of action unions are taking to meet their objectives in helping members improve their pay and conditions when a dispute arises.

The new guide has been updated to take account of the changes introduced by the Trade Union Act 2016, and it clearly sets out how the law applies to all forms of industrial action, including:

  • How the statutory immunities work – what is, and is not, permitted;

  • What is a trade dispute;

  • When is industrial action “unofficial” and the legal implications for those involved;

  • Picketing – including the new requirement for “union supervision” of pickets

  • Early indications of union responses to the changes to the law; and

  • The relevance of human rights and European Union Law.

This essential booklet highlights the changes to the legal rules on balloting and notice, including the new higher thresholds for industrial action ballots, and what is meant by “important public services”.

It is written in a clear, straightforward style, and illustrated throughout with relevant, up-to-date workplace examples, and the latest legal rulings.



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