Sympathy Striking Tomorrow May be Unlawful

In advance of tomorrow’s planned strike action, it appears that a representative of one Trade Union has been rather over enthusiastic in drumming up support for the strike. The official, presumably of his own initiative rather than on instruction from the Union in question has apparently been telephoning Union members and encouraging strike action! Not a major concern perhaps – but the employer for whom the individuals work is not a public sector employer, nor were the employees contacted individuals that had been acquired from the public service!

All a bit naughty – particularly as the law on this is very clear. Secondary industrial action (which is what this would be) is unlawful by s224 TULRCA. Accordingly, Unions that organise such action will lose immunity from legal proceedings brought under any of the industrial torts specified in s219 of that Act. Furthermore, an employee has no right to complain of unfair dismissal if, at the time of that dismissal, he was taking part in an unofficial strike or other unofficial industrial action.

Consequently, the rogue Trade Union official encouraging this action is not only exposing his own Union to potential legal proceedings, but also exposing relevant members in the private sector who go out on strike in sympathy to dismissal for gross misconduct.