The Trade Union Bill is here and the Government wants your views

16 July, 2015
by: Cripps Pemberton Greenish

With this month’s tube strikes causing havoc for thousands of London commuters, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has today published the Trade Union Bill (the Bill) in a timely fashion.

In yesterday’s press release, Nick Boles MP says that the current strike rules mean ‘a small minority of trade union members can fundamentally disrupt the lives of millions of commuters, parents, workers and employers at short notice. The new legislation will ensure that ‘strikes are the result of a clear and positive democratic mandate from union members’.

The Bill introduces a 50% turnout threshold for ballots on industrial action. For core public services, there is an additional threshold of 40% of eligible voters who must back the action. This means that, in core public services, 80% of those who vote must vote in favour of the strike for it to be held.

The Bill introduces several other changes, including:

  • A four month time limit for industrial action, so that mandates are always recent; 
  • A requirement of a clear description of the trade dispute and the planned strike on the ballot paper, so that union members can be clear on what they are voting on; 
  • Greater scrutiny and controls over subsidies to trade unions paid by the taxpayer; 
  • Providing trade union members with an active choice of paying into political funds; 
  • A ban on using agency workers to cover striking workers to be lifted; 
  • An increase in the amount of notice of a strike to be given to an employer from 7 to 14 days; and 
  • The introduction of safeguards to ensure that non-striking employees are able to go about their work without fear of intimidation.

These are significant changes which BIS is consulting over and the consultation will run until 9 September 2015.