Government seeks changes to strike law

A construction union leader has accused the new Conservative government of seeking to “slash workers’ rights” after it put forward plans for changes to the law on strike action.

The Queen’s Speech on 27 May, setting out the government’s planned legislative programme, included proposals for a Trade Unions Bill.

The Bill would require a turnout of 50 per cent in trade union ballots for industrial action, retaining the requirement for a majority of votes in favour. In health, education, fire and transport public services, 40 per cent of those entitled to vote would be required to support industrial action.

It would also introduce a time limit on a mandate following a ballot for industrial action and measures to tackle intimidation of workers during a strike.

Brian Rye, national secretary of construction workers’ union UCATT, said: “The right for a worker to withdraw their labour is a basic freedom” and accused the Conservatives of being determined “to slash workers’ rights.”

Dave Prentis, general secretary of public sector and utilities union UNISON, added: “The UK already has tough laws on strikes – there is no need to make them stricter still. Democracy won’t be enhanced by raising thresholds but by bringing balloting into the 21st century.”

As the law in this area continues to evolve, Palmers can provide expert advice to businesses and organisations facing industrial action, such as strikes or working to rule, and on the options available to help resolve disputes as quickly and constructively as possible.

For tailored advice on the law surrounding industrial action, or any other employment law matter, please contact our employment law specialists Lara Murray.