The Government has confirmed that the Trade Union Act 2016 will come into force on 1 March 2017.
As before, a union will be required to attain a majority of votes in favour before it can begin strike action. However the Act, which was part of the Conservative party’s 2015 manifesto, introduces two major restrictions which limit unions’ ability to call a strike:
• unions must attain a minimum 50 per cent turnout in a strike ballot; and
• where an ‘important public service’ is concerned 40 per cent of those entitled to voted must have been in favour of the strike action.
The Government has recently clarified the meaning of ‘important public service’, which includes border security, transport, education and health services. This will therefore include rail services, air traffic control, firefighters and A&E all of which have chosen to strike in recent years.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that although the number of days lost to industrial action in 2016 almost doubled from the previous year, we are still living in an age where the level of strike action is comparatively very low. In 2015, 169,000 working days were lost to strike action. Compare that to the 1980s where the number peaked at 27,135,000.
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