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Trade Union Act 2016 - A TUC guide for union reps

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Research and reports
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The Trade Union Act became law on 4 May 2016 and many – but not all - the new rules are now in force. The Act represents the most serious attack on the rights of trade unions and their members in a generation.
As soon as the Bill was introduced, unions joined together to campaign to defeat the proposals and where this was not possible, to damage, dilute and delay them.

In response to union campaigning nationwide, the government made several concessions, including:

  • An independent review on e-voting in industrial action ballots.
  • Removing ancillary workers from the 40 per cent threshold.
  • Limiting new political fund ‘opt-in’ rules to new members.
  • Delaying any cap on facilities for union reps for at least three years.
  • Scrapping the public sector ‘check-off’ ban, where unions cover the costs.

Whilst the union movement made significant progress in many areas, the TU Act is still damaging and divisive. It includes serious and unnecessary restrictions on unions and their members, including:

  • Arbitrary thresholds in industrial action ballots.
  • Complicated new balloting and notice rules designed to make industrial action more difficult for unions to organise.
  • New restrictions on pickets.
  • New restrictions on union campaigning, with extra duties to report on campaigns and wider causes supported from unions’ political funds.
  • Wide-ranging powers for the Certification Officer, who regulates unions.
  • An expensive levy paid by unions for the costs of being regulated.

The government is also still considering ending the ban on agency workers replacing strikers.

From the start, the government’s aim was to further restrict the ability of union members to organise collectively in defence of their jobs and livelihoods. But unions will work together to make sure our movement gets stronger, continuing to represent people at work, tackling inequality and campaigning and negotiating for decent pay, safe workplaces and good employment conditions.

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