As well as changes to the rules on strike ballots, the Trade Union Bill currently going through Parliament also tackles the government's concerns about the intimidation of non-striking workers. One provision has caused particular controversy – the requirement for a union to appoint a picket supervisor, even though it largely reflects the existing statutory Code of Practice on Picketing.
The supervisor has to attend the picket line or be readily contactable by the union or the police, in order to be able to return at short notice if necessary, and the union must issue the supervisor with a letter of authorisation, to make it clear that the picketing is endorsed by the union.
There had been speculation that this letter of authorisation would give the police the supervisor's personal details; the government's response confirms that the Bill will be amended to clarify that the letter applies to the picketing activity and therefore does not require the picket supervisor’s name. The Bill will also make it clear that the employer at whose premises the picketing is taking place will be able to see the letter.
The government will also update the Code of Practice (in particular, to cover the use of social media in protests linked to industrial disputes); but will not now include any of its other picketing related proposals, such as requiring the union to publish their plans for intended action during industrial disputes, or annual reporting on picketing or protest activity.