Number of unions taking action on business decisions is on the rise

The number of unions protesting and threatening action against business decisions is on the increase, according to employment lawyers.

News that super-union Unite is urging Sainsbury’s shareholders to vote against the £10.6bn takeover by private equity group Delta Two, coupled with strike action from postal workers in recent weeks, confirms the “return to power” for trade unions which was “virtually destroyed” by previous Conservative governments, according to law firm Pinsent Masons.

Employment lawyer Lisa Patmore said: “We have seen a distinct increase in union activity, the number of challenges made by unions to business decisions and the applications made by unions for recognition.

“Businesses really do need to factor in union reaction to major decisions they make. A negative relationship with a union can result in even more challenges for businesses, such as strikes.”

Union membership in the 1970s was estimated at 60% of the workforce, which declined significantly to 30% by the 1990s. Unite now has more than one million members.

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