On the 4th of May 2016 the Trade Union Bill was passed through Parliament and received Royal Assent. The Government believe that the Trade Union Bill (now the Trade union Act) will ‘modernise’ unions and ensure that strikes only go ahead where there has been a ballot turnout of at least 50%. The Act also states that an additional 40% threshold of support from individuals eligible to vote will have to be met in public services such as education, health, transport, fire services and border security.
The Employment Minister Nick Boles commented: “The Act means the rights of the public to go about their lives are fairly balanced with members’ ability to strike.” In contrast the TUC have condemned the Bill as an attack on a ‘fundamental British liberty’, whilst other critics described the Bill as ‘unprincipled and unnecessary’.
The commencement date for the Act is still unknown. In addition, provisions to abolish the ban on the use of agency workers to backfill for those on strike were not contained in the Act. These provisions are due to be introduced in secondary legislation, but no update on the timing of this has been given.