The Government has recently published draft regulations on an important aspect of its Trade Union Act concerning the application of the additional 40% ballot threshold in industrial action ballots.
The additional 40% specifies that in important public services at least 40% of eligible voters must vote in favour of industrial action. This is in addition to the general requirement to obtain at least 50% turnout in a ballot for a union to retain its immunity.
Regulations on the standard 50% and other aspects of industrial action are still up for debate and have not yet been published.
The five separate additional 40% Regulations cover health, transport, education, fire and border security and will probably come into force on 1 March. Caught in the Governmentâ€™s net are workers providing:
- medical services; such as ambulance services, accident and emergency services in hospitals, services in high dependency units and intensive care in hospitals, emergency psychiatric services, and emergency and midwifery services;
- transport services; such as London buses, passenger rail services (including maintenance and some station services but not including international rail services), air traffic control services, and airport and port security services;
- teaching services at non-fee paying schools and academies for students aged 16-19;
- firefighting services;
- border control services, such as patrol, inspection and intelligence services.
The Government intends to introduce a one year transition period for the â€śopt inâ€ť arrangements for unions’ Political Funds but has withdrawn its draft Regulations. It will return to this issue shortly, almost certainly keeping the one year transitional period.
During 2017, the Government will review and/or consult on:
- electronic voting for industrial action ballots
- new powers for the Certification Officer
- union facility time and check off arrangements.