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12 Sep 2017
Len McCluskey has attracted news headlines today, calling for strike action in relation to public sector pay going so far as to say that he would support illegal strike action.
Whether a strike is “official” that is supported by the relevant Trade Union has important consequences for the legal protection afforded to employees who participate in strike action. Statutory protections are only afforded to employees who participate in official action.
Under current Trade Union Legislation, a Union can only obtain a lawful strike mandate if:-
Previously, ballots simply required a simple majority of those voting, regardless of the level of participation, to be lawful.
If strike action does not have the support of a lawful ballot, and is condoned by the Trade Union, the Trade Union can be liable for damages for inducing an illegal strike. The amount of damages that can be awarded against a Trade Union for inducing an illegal strike cannot exceed the following limits:-
As Unite claims that it has circa 1.42m members, it potentially faces financial liability of £250,000 if it condones an illegal strike. It, therefore, remains to be seen whether the Union will actually expose itself to claims and back its members by supporting and condoning “illegal strikes” if ballots proceed, a simple majority vote in favour of strike action, but the relevant thresholds are not met.
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