Salford research analyses the impact of the Conservative Trade Union Bill

Proposals to introduce tougher regulations on industrial action ballots would make it extremely difficult for many trade unions to mount strikes as a means of challenging employers in national negotiations and government-initiated austerity measures, albeit with significant variations across sectors, unions and ballots, according to new preliminary research carried out by Professor Ralph Darlington, Professor of Employment Relations and Director of Postgraduate Research at Salford Business School.

The Conservative Government’s Trade Union Bill, which received its first reading in the House of Commons on 15 July 2015, would make it illegal to hold strike action unless there is at least 50 per cent turnout. In addition, strike action in so-called ‘essential public services’ – including Health, Education of those aged under 17, Fire Services, and Transport – would require 40 per cent or more of eligible union members to back industrial action to be classified as legal. Currently, there is no minimum turnout to validate a ballot and only a simple majority is required.

To examine the potential effects of the legislation, Professor Darlington, has retrospectively applied the proposed legislation to 162 historical industrial action ballots, 158 of which are strike ballots, involving 28 different trade unions over the period 1997-2015.

Preliminary findings show that while in the past unions have generally been overwhelmingly successful in winning majority ‘yes’ votes in favour of strike action, under the proposed legislation many unions would fail to achieve the Conservative Government’s proposed 50 per cent participation threshold.

The preliminary findings in full are contained in a new report published on the Salford Business School website :

Professor Darlington has written a summary and commentary of the preliminary findings, available via the Salford Business School Blog:

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