15 July 2015

Trade Union Reforms

The Government has today announced the start of a consultation on reforms to trade union laws, particularly in relation to strike laws.

The Trade Union Bill will introduce:

  • A 50% threshold for ballot turn-out
  • An additional threshold of 40% of support to take industrial action from all members eligible to vote in the key health, education, fire, transport and border security and nuclear decommissioning sectors including the Border Force.

These measures are being introduced to address the fact that the present rules mean that only a simple majority of those voting is required for action, which can allow a small minority of trade union members to bring about industrial action without the support of the majority.

The Bill will also seek to improve union practices and increase transparency by:

  • Setting a 4 month time limit for industrial action
  • Requiring a clear description of the trade dispute and planned industrial action on the ballot paper
  • Introducing greater scrutiny and controls over tax-funded subsidies to trade unions
  • Creating a transparent process for subscriptions so that members can choose whether or not to pay into political funds, and
  • Putting safeguards in place to ensure protection from intimidation for non-strikers.

The Bill, which also seeks to repeal the ban on the use of agency workers to cover the work of strikers, has not yet been published but you can click here to read the full press release from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

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