Home / Insights / Blog / Legislation Governing Industrial Disputes: Union Law Review to Make no Recommendations

Legislation Governing Industrial Disputes: Union Law Review to Make no Recommendations

Legislation Governing Industrial Disputes: Union Law Review to Make no Recommendations

Bruce Carr, the QC leading an independent inquiry into legislation governing industrial disputes, has said that he will not make any proposals for a change in the law.

Last November, the Government asked Mr Carr to examine whether the law needed changing to prevent “intimidation” and “harassment”. The decision to carry out a review of laws followed claims that the Unite union had used intimidating tactics in a dispute between management and workers at the Ineos petrochemical plant in Grangemouth.

However, Mr Carr has revealed that he had increasing concerns about his ability to gather meaningful evidence, citing the fact that the “politicised environment” in the run up to next year’s election would mean carrying out an objective review would be difficult.

“I have become increasingly concerned about the quantity and breadth of evidence that the review has been able to obtain from both employers and trade unions,” Mr Carr explained.

He went on to add “I am also concerned about the ability of the review to operate in a progressively politicised environment in the run up to the next general election. That being so, I have reached the conclusion that it will simply not be possible for the review to put together a substantial enough body of evidence from which to provide a sound basis for making recommendations for change.”

Despite the fact there will be no recommendations for a change in the law, Mr Carr said he will still produce a report on the union’s actions “by the early autumn”.

Plans to tighten trade union laws

Last month, the Conservative Party announced plans to tighten trade union strikes if they win power in 2015 General Election, with Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude revealing that the Party’s manifesto would include the requirement for at least half of eligible union members to vote in order for a strike to be lawful. Under the current law, a strike can take place if it is backed by a simple majority of those union members who vote – regardless of the level of turnout.

Other proposals included a three-month time limit after the ballot for the action to take place and curbs on picketing. Unions would also be required to give employers 14 days notice before taking industrial action, rather than seven days now.

Unveiling the plans, Mr Maude commented: “I’ve always said that unions can play a constructive role in the modern workplace. But I’ve also warned that the more that union leaders pushed for disruptive strike action without even persuading a majority of their members to vote, the stronger the case would become for changing the law.”

Leap in the amount days lost to strikes

Meanwhile, official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown that there was a 78% leap in the number of working days lost to strike action between 2012 and 2013. The ONS revealed that there were 443,600 working days lost due to labour disputes in 2013, up from 248,800 in 2012. The body research also found that more workers took part in strike action, with 395,400 walking out against 236,800 a year before. Overall there were 114 strikes in 2014, 50 in the public sector and 64 in the private sector.

The ONS data found that the worst affected roles were in technical and admin activities, which saw 28 stoppages; education, which also saw 28 stoppages; and transport, storage, information and communication, which saw 20 stoppages.

Employment law advice for employers

Businesses want to focus on profitability and the smooth daily running of their operations. If there’s one thing that can derail that objective, it’s an employment dispute. At IBB Solicitors, we understand how important it is for you to have the right legal advice to quickly resolve conflicts.

We provide expert advice on: Employment tribunals and dispute resolution, Employment contracts and policies, Redundancies, TUPE, and Settlement discussion and agreements.

Find out how we can protect your business and your reputation by calling us on 01895 207892. Alternatively email your details to employment@ibblaw.co.uk.