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Industrial action and collective representation

Inflation, other cost increases and economic uncertainty are resulting in strike action.

With an increase in the cost of living and economic uncertainty, even businesses who have previously experienced good relationships with unions and works councils are finding employees much more likely to demand better remuneration and object to changes in employment. Industrial action has been making headline news and its effects have had a negative impact on the wider economy.

The development of proactive industrial relations strategies therefore remains more important than ever when planning how you may want to re-shape your workforce, to avoid both industrial action and reputationally damaging campaigns against the business.

Even those companies without unions and works councils may have employees who collectively want to demand more from their employers. Now may therefore be an opportune time to consider whether establishing an employee forum or strengthening an existing body will be helpful with future labour relations and, if so, what form it should take and what remit it should have. In particular, it would be sensible to consider whether any new or improved body should have a sufficiently strong remit to engage in consultation with a “view to reaching agreement”, as must take place in the context not only of collective redundancies but also TUPE transfers involving measures.

To find out how we can support you with matters relating to unions and works councils, please visit our service page.

Further reading

New Bill to mandate minimum service levels during public service strikes

12 January 2023

Faced by entrenched pay disputes across the UK public sector and railway network, the government is proposing to expand and simplify its previously-announced reforms and introduce minimum service levels during strikes across a range of public services.

office floor

Industrial action

22 November 2022

Economically turbulent times resulting from coronavirus have seen an increase in trade unions’ membership and an increase in them ‘flexing their muscles’ by threatening industrial action over adverse changes in the workplace for their members.

Train going through station

Will the government repeal the ban on agencies supplying workers to fill in during strikes?

16 June 2022

Transport secretary Grant Shapps hit the headlines this week when he announced that the government is considering legal changes to allow agencies to supply workers to fill in for striking staff. This is in response to planned strikes across the rail network next week.

Court of Appeal lifts restriction on employers responding to industrial action

07 April 2022

The Court of Appeal has ruled that UK legislation does not prevent employers from taking steps falling short of dismissal in response to industrial action. The UK may be in breach of its international commitments over trade union rights, but it is for Parliament and not the courts to address this sensitive issue.


Restructuring the workplace post Covid-19 - FAQs for employers

25 February 2022

As the furlough scheme has now ended, some employers are focused on cost-saving measures in the face of ongoing economic challenges.


I’m still standing - should employers set up a standing body for collective consultation?

10 March 2021

Employers may have to contemplate difficult decisions as they look ahead to the lasting effects of the pandemic, including potentially making redundancies. This article discusses whether now might be an opportune time for employers with no recognised trade union to set up a standing body for collective consultation purposes.

Contract breaking up is never easy

Collective redundancy consultation – do you need to look back before moving forward?

02 December 2020

A recent European Court of Justice ruling suggests that employers should look at a “rolling” 90-day period when ascertaining whether collective redundancy consultation is required. While this has potentially significant implications, the end of the Brexit transition period may limit its fallout.

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