Trade Union Act

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10 May 2016
The trade union bill had its final reading in the House of Commons on 27 April. Crucially, a number of amendments made in the House of Lords following sustained union campaigning were accepted by the government, meaning that some of the most damaging parts of the bill were removed when it became law.

These amendments included:

  • abandoning plans to force unions to give employers detailed plans for pickets and social media campaigns two weeks in advance, or to make everyone on a picket line show their personal data to the police, employers or anyone who asked to see it
  • dropping plans to ban union subscriptions via payroll (check-off), provided the union pays processing costs
  • agreeing to test digital balloting for industrial action - a move that is almost certain to help increase turnouts
  • removing new powers for ministers to intervene in local agreements to arbitrarily cap the amount any employer could spend on paid release time for trained and accredited union reps elected by members – our branch secretaries and workplace reps – to exercise their legal rights to act on members' behalf.

However, while peers were also successful in scaling back the new 'double threshold' rules for ballots on industrial action for workers in important public services, this pernicious rule still applies to education workers. This means that for a ballot to be deemed valid:

  • 50% of all eligible members must send back their ballot papers
  • 40% of all eligible members must vote 'yes' before action can take place

Further background

ATL responded to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills' (BIS) consultation request in September outlining our concerns. You can read ATL's full response here.

For a full account of the bill's passage through parliament so far, including the government concessions and Lords' amendments read this Touchstone blog here.

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Industrial relations