The Government is to introduce a Trade Union Bill to impose new restrictions on industrial action ballots. Among other things, the Bill will introduce a 50% turnout requirement for a valid ballot on industrial action and limit the period during which a ballot is valid to authorise industrial action to four months.
Although the Bill has not yet been published, a press release from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills sets out its main features. In addition to the 50% turnout threshold, industrial action in the health, education, fire, transport, border security and energy sectors will only be authorised if 40% support is achieved. Other features of the Bill will include a requirement that the ballot paper provide ‘a clear description of the trade dispute and the planned industrial action… so that all union members are clear what they are voting for’, and a requirement that union members wishing to contribute to a union’s political fund ‘opt in’, instead of the current ‘opt out’ procedure.
The press release indicates that there will be a consultation on the 40% approval threshold that will apply to certain public sectors. There will also be a consultation on repealing the current ban on employment agencies providing agency workers to replace those taking industrial action. These consultations will open today and run until September 2015.
Link to press release: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-legislation-to-make-strike-laws-fair-for-working-people
(c) Thomson Reuters