Minor Errors Bill: No minor issue
A string of recent disputes have seen employers use a controversial legal tactic to over-rule ballots for industrial action. Where the union has made minor technical errors in the ballot, strikes have been declared unlawful, even where the overwhelming majority of members have voted in favour of taking action, and even where the technical breaches would in no way have affected the outcome of the ballot.
In the UK, in order for industrial action to be lawful, unions have to abide by highly complex rules govertning the format of the ballot, and notices to be provided to employers. The hoops unions need to jump through to take lawful industrial action are stricter than in most of the industrialised world. Inded, both the ILO and Council of Europe have found that UK laws flout international human rights standards.
MP John McDonnel is trying to fix this situation by introducing a private members bill, called The Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill. The Bill’s provisions would mean that ordinary working people, who have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, would not have their democratic will overruled on technicalities.
The Bill is listed for its Second Reading in the House of the Commons on 22 October, and a lobby of Parliament has been planned on 13 October in support of the Bill. If you are interested in attending the lobby, check with your union, who will have information on how to join them there.