The Carr Report (‘Report’) has been published this month. The Report was largely initiated to assess the range of extreme ‘leverage’ tactics adopted in industrial disputes by trade unions following the high profile industrial dispute in October 2013 between INEOS and Unite the Union (‘Unite’) at Grangemouth Chemicals and Refining plant. During this dispute, Unite allegedly used inappropriate and intimidating tactics which included:
- victimisation and harassment of senior managers
- victimisation and harassment of non-striking staff and publication of their details on social media sites
- ill-tempered confrontations
- disruption to businesses and damage to property and appliances; and
- pursuing and jeering at stand-in employees while they were trying to perform their duties.
It was expected that the Report would provide recommendations for law reform. In practice, the low response rate and ‘lack of active engagement’ with the review from both employers and, in particular, the trade union movement (the latter asserting it was a political exercise) hampered its projected impact. Instead, the Report simply provides a summary of the evidence collected, the legislation to be applied to those disputes, and the main calls for reform made by the Report’s contributors.
In the absence of any legislative reform, it is likely that similar ‘leverage’ tactics will continue to be used by certain trade unions during the increase in strike action expected to take place during the next few months. Employers will need to continue to rely on obtaining recourse via existing legislation which many feel is inadequate. Senior executives at organisations being threatened with industrial action need to be aware of the potential personal attacks they may encounter and contingency plans need to be in place to cope with potential aggressive strike action. The Report will provide an insight of what employers can expect when taking on particular trade unions and good contingency planning and well thought through communications will be the key to preparing for strike action.