09 / 12 / 2016 1.17pm
Draft regulations have been published defining which public services require a 40 per cent strike vote to take industrial action.
The government has identified the occupations that they consider are most important in avoiding the adverse impacts strike action can have on public services. For health, this applies to the following occupations and services:
- the ambulance services provided in an emergency
- accident and emergency services in a hospital
- services which are provided in high-dependency units and intensive care in a hospital
- psychiatric services provided in a hospital for conditions which require immediate attention in order to prevent serious injury, serious illness or loss of life
- obstetric and midwifery services provided in a hospital for conditions which require immediate attention in order to prevent serious injury, serious illness or loss of life.
The new balloting requirement will come into force on 01 March 2017. The health service occupations detailed above will be subject to the 40 per cent threshold from this date.
The Trade Union Act 2016
introduced new rules for industrial action, the key changes being:
- At least 50 per cent of members entitled to vote must do so for ballots on industrial action to be valid.
- 40 per cent of those eligible to vote must back action for strikes in core public services (health, education, transport and fire services). Ballots currently require a simple majority to back action.
- Removal of restrictions on using temporary workers to cover for striking staff, a ban has been in place since 1973.
- Tightening rules on ballot mandates - this would prevent unions undertaking action based on historic strike ballots.
- Unions must appoint a picketing supervisor to help provide protection for non-striking workers. Employers will be able to seek injunctions or damages from unions that break these new rules.
- The notice a union must provide workers ahead of a strike has increased from seven to 14 days.
The government had intended to abolish the check-off process for public-sector employees (the process whereby the employer deducts trade union membership subscriptions from pay). It has been confirmed that this won't be abolished and the government has agreed to amend this proposal to allow the process to remain where there is agreement with the employer to provide check-off and the union meets the administrative cost.
Read the draft regulation on the legislation.gov.uk website