The Trade Union Act prohibits industrial action unless there has been a union ballot turnout of at least 50%.
In important public services, including in the health, education, transport, border security and fire sectors, an additional threshold of 40% of support to take industrial action from all eligible members must be met for action to be legal.
Other main features of the Act are:
- Requiring a description of the trade dispute on the voting paper and providing information to union members about the results of the ballot.
- Increase the amount of notice of a strike to be given to an employer to 14 days.
- Introducing measures for union supervision of picketing.
- Restricting the mandate for industrial action post ballot to 6 months.
- Introducing changes to the role of the certification officer allowing enforcement powers in relation to reporting requirements on and industrial action and political fund expenditure.
- Introducing a 12 month transition period for the new members to opt into the political fund element of trade unions subscriptions.
The Act introduces significant changes in the employment relations field and employers stand to gain with more onerous requirements piled on trade unions with the aim of reducing industrial action.
It may however backfire and lead to more creative ways of protest from unions.