Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to rip up the Trade Union Act within the first 100 days of a Labour government.
The opposition leader told Union delegates at the TUC Congress 2019 in Brighton that a Labour government would repeal the 2016 law, widely seen as an attack on union powers.
Some of the toughest restrictions include an arbitrary threshold of 50% member turnout in industrial action ballots. Public services such as teachers, energy workers and border security require a turnout of 50% and at least 40% of all eligible voters opting to strike.
Unions must also give employers two weeks’ notice of the intention to strike, making industrial action more difficult for unions to organise – and ruling out wildcat action.
Votes in support of industrial action become invalid after six months if no action has been taken, or after nine months with the agreement of the employer New restrictions on pickets brought in by the Act mean unions have to elect an official supervisor for pickets, who must give the police their name, contact details and the location of the picket.
Mr Corbyn also reiterated a pledge to give unions the right to organise members in workplaces and introduce extra protection for union representatives facing unfair dismissal. Labour first made the pledge to repeal the Trade Union Act in its 2017 ‘A Fair Deal at Work’ manifesto, alongside rolling out sectoral collective bargaining.
MP for North West Durham Laura Pidcock said a Labour government would establish a Ministry of Employment Rights to boost individual and collective rights at work. ‘It will establish a National Joint Advisory Council for representatives of government, employers, unions and experts to meet and advise. Above all, this will mean that the voice of working people will be heard at the Cabinet table, exactly as it should be,’ Ms Pidcock told Congress.
Labour would also re-establish sectorial national collective bargaining between trade unions and employers. ‘That was the British way for most of the 20th century and it still is the way that the successful economies of Northern Europe manage their industrial relations,’ Ms Pidcock said.
‘Sector-wide collective bargaining will set minimum and legally binding pay, terms and conditions for every employer and every worker in the sector.’