Industrial action reform: the Government’s proposals

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ITV workers including a Simon Cowell look-alike striking earlier this month. Photo: REX

Consultant editor Darren Newman examines Government’s proposals for reform in relation to industrial action, and balloting thresholds in particular.

One advantage of having a majority Government – of whatever persuasion – is that it is easier to predict the policies that it will pursue. Without the horse-trading involved in coalition governments we can look to the relevant party’s manifesto as a reasonable guide to what its initial programme for Government will be.

In reality, I suspect that the impact will be less dramatic than a complete absence of lawful industrial action”

It is clear from the Conservative manifesto that, with regard to employment law, one priority is the reform of the law governing trade unions – and in particular industrial action.

The new law will be wide-ranging with further restrictions placed on picketing and the repeal of the current rule preventing use of agency workers as cover for striking employees.

We can also expect the introduction of a “shelf life” for industrial action ballots. Currently, once a union has taken industrial action following a successful ballot, it may continue to do so for as long as the dispute continues.

We have seen action in the public sector, for example, based on a ballot held many months earlier. It is likely that any new law would require the union to seek periodic reauthorisation for industrial action.

If a union cannot motivate workers to vote, how keen are they likely to be to walk out?”

The main focus of the new law, however, will be the introduction of turnout thresholds in industrial action ballots.

Under the current law, industrial action will be lawful if it is supported by a majority of those voting in a ballot – irrespective of how many union members actually participate.

Under the new law, a ballot will need to achieve at least a 50% turnout…

Continue reading the full analysis on XpertHR

Darren Newman

About Darren Newman

Darren Newman qualified as a barrister in 1990, and has represented both employers and employees at tribunal. He provides straightforward practical guidance on a wide range of employment law issues. Darren also works as a consultant editor for XpertHR.
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