© Associated Train Crew Union.
ATCU, an accountable and democratic independent Union founded to address the issues affecting all our colleagues and to meet the aspirations of all those working in the rail industry.
Break the chains of slavery and let your voice be your freedom
What is a protected strike?
Unlike several European countries, Britain does not have a constitutional right to strike, in fact no fundamental right to strike at all. Rather, Britain’s unions’ and members’ are protected from being pursued for damages by “immunities” (provided that the required legal procedures have been followed). And to attain these immunities a strike must only be in the pursuance of a “trade dispute”. Once this is established unions are then required to follow set procedures laid down by parliament in order to be able to exercise their legal right to strike.
Except where less than 50 members are involved, a British union must organise a postal ballot of all members liable to take part in strike action. The ballot paper must conform to set legal requirements including a set wording.
Following the above, the employer must then be given seven days notice of the ballot, and receive a copy of the ballot paper at least three days before the ballot opens. Occasionally a ballot paper has been contested by the employer where one word on the ballot paper is omitted or incorrectly inserted. On one occasion an employer argued that the letter ‘a’ was not included.
The trade union must tell the employer how many people are being balloted, what grades they belong to, the workplaces of these employees, how many employees in each grade and each workplace pay union dues by check-off, and an explanation of how these figures have been arrived at.
Once the votes have been counted, the employer must be given detailed information about the result “as soon as reasonably practical” (in practice: more or less straightaway), and so too must the members balloted.
The employer must be given at least seven days notice of a strike, which must be called within 28 days of the ballot result. Notice of the strike action must contain details about the numbers, categories and workplaces of those who will be striking.
For more information on strike action in Britain and Europe please see ATCU article: