The Government has published the Trade Union Bill 2015-2016 which aims to reform various aspects of the law on industrial action and trade union obligations and activities. There are also proposals to require public sector bodies or bodies which are publicly funded to publish information about union facility time in the organisation, and a power in the Bill for the government to introduce regulations restricting the right of union officials to paid facility time in the public sector.
Key features of the Bill include:
• Increased ballot thresholds – at least 50% of eligible members must have voted in favour of strike action
• Additional thresholds for workers in “important public services”, e.g. health services, schools, fire services and transport services
• More information to be included on voting papers
• More information to members about the ballot results
• Notice of industrial action to be increased from 7 days to 14 days
• A new four month time limit after a ballot in which strike action must take place: currently action can be suspended and re-started relying on the original ballot
• More stringent requirements for unions to supervise picketing.
• A new definition of picketing as attendance at or near a place of work in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute for the purpose of obtaining or communicating information or persuading any person to work or abstain from working
Consultations have also been launched on the proposed introduction of a 40% ballot threshold for certain important public services, reforming the rules and code of practice on picketing and repealing the ban on the use of agency workers. The consultation is open until 9 September 2015. We will report on developments in future bulletins.