The Trade Union Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech has now been published, revealing further details of the government’s proposals. In addition to the trailed requirements for a 50% turnout for industrial action and, in certain key public services, for 40% of eligible voters to vote in favour, the Bill confirms that:
- the ban on using agency staff to cover the duties of striking employees will be lifted;
- there will be a four month limit on a strike mandate, after which another ballot will be required;
- voting papers will have to include a clear description of the trade dispute, the type of planned industrial action and the periods within which it is expected to occur;
- automatic opt-ins to political donations from trade union subscription fees will be banned;
- the amount of notice of a strike to be given to an employer will be increased from 7 to 14 days;
- there will be new requirements for unions to supervise picketing, a failure to comply with which will make the picketing unlawful and therefore actionable in tort.
The Government has also launched three consultations running until 9 September 2015 on:
- which roles and occupations in the specific public services should be subject to the 40% ballot threshold (details here);
- picketing, intimidation and leverage tactics by unions: the Government proposes making certain aspects of a revised Code of Practice on Picketing legally binding so that employers can seek injunctions or damages for breach, and it also seeks views on whether further steps are needed such as a new criminal offence of intimidation on the picket line (details here)
- the repeal of a ban on the use of agency workers (details here).