Employment Relations Bill — Collective Bargaining: Recognition — 31 Mar 1999

Dominic Grieve MP, Beaconsfield did not vote.

Introduction

1. The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 shall be amended as provided by this Schedule.

Support of ballot

2.--(1) Section 226 (requirement of ballot before action by trade union) shall be amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2) (industrial action to be regarded as having support of ballot only if certain conditions are fulfilled) in paragraph (a)(ii) for "231A" substitute "231", omit the word "and" at the end of paragraph (b), and after paragraph (b) insert--

"(bb) section 232A does not prevent the industrial action from being regarded as having the support of the ballot; and".

(3) After subsection (3) insert--

"(3A) If the requirements of section 231A fall to be satisfied in relation to an employer, as respects that employer industrial action shall not be regarded as having the support of a ballot unless those requirements are satisfied in relation to that employer."

Documents for employers

3.--(1) Section 226A (notice of ballot and sample voting paper for employers) shall be amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2)(c) (notice of ballot must describe employees entitled to vote) for "describing (so that he can readily ascertain them) the employees of the employer" substitute "containing such information in the union's possession as would help the employer to make plans and bring information to the attention of those of his employees".

(3) After subsection (3) insert--

"(3A) These rules apply for the purposes of paragraph (c) of subsection (2)--

(a) if the union possesses information as to the number, category or work-place of the employees concerned, a notice must contain that information (at least);

(b) if a notice does not name any employees, that fact shall not be a ground for holding that it does not comply with paragraph (c) of subsection (2).

(3B) In subsection (3) references to employees are to employees of the employer concerned."

Entitlement to vote

4. In section 227 (entitlement to vote in ballot) subsection (2) (position where member is denied entitlement to vote) shall be omitted.

Voting paper

5.--(1) Section 229 (voting paper) shall be amended as follows.

(2) After subsection (2) (voting paper must ask whether voter is prepared to take part in a strike or industrial action short of a strike) insert--

"(2A) For the purposes of subsection (2) an overtime ban and a call-out ban constitute industrial action short of a strike."

(3) At the end of the statement in subsection (4) (statement that industrial action may be a breach of employment contract to be set out on every voting paper) insert--

"However, if you are dismissed for taking part in strike or other industrial action which is called officially and is otherwise lawful, the dismissal will be unfair if it takes place fewer than eight weeks after you started taking part in the action, and may be unfair if it takes place later."

Inducement

6. After section 232 insert--

"Inducement of member denied entitlement to vote

232A. Industrial action shall not be regarded as having the support of a ballot if the following conditions apply in the case of any person--

(a) he was a member of the trade union at the time when the ballot was held,

(b) it was reasonable at that time for the trade union to believe he would be induced to take part or, as the case may be, to continue to take part in the industrial action,

(c) he was not accorded entitlement to vote in the ballot, and

(d) he was induced by the trade union to take part or, as the case may be, to continue to take part in the industrial action."

Disregard of certain failures

7. After section 232A there shall be inserted--

"Small accidental failures to be disregarded

232B.--(1) If--

(a) in relation to a ballot there is a failure (or there are failures) to comply with a provision mentioned in subsection (2) or with more than one of those provisions, and

(b) the failure is accidental and on a scale which is unlikely to affect the result of the ballot or, as the case may be, the failures are accidental and taken together are on a scale which is unlikely to affect the result of the ballot,

the failure (or failures) shall be disregarded.

(2) The provisions are section 227(1), section 230(2) and section 230(2A)."

Period of ballot's effectiveness

8. In section 234 (period after which ballot ceases to be effective) for subsection (1) there shall be substituted--

"(1) Subject to the following provisions, a ballot ceases to be effective for the purposes of section 233(3)(b) in relation to industrial action by members of a trade union at the end of the period, beginning with the date of the ballot--

(a) of four weeks, or

(b) of such longer duration not exceeding eight weeks as is agreed between the union and the members' employer."

Notice of industrial action

9.--(1) Section 234A (notice to employers of industrial action) shall be amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (3)(a) (notice relating to industrial action must describe employees intended to take part in industrial action) for "describes (so that he can readily ascertain them) the employees of the employer who" substitute "contains such information in the union's possession as would help the employer to make plans and bring information to the attention of those of his employees whom".

(3) After subsection (5) insert--

"(5A) These rules apply for the purposes of paragraph (a) of subsection (3)--

(a) if the union possesses information as to the number, category or work-place of the employees concerned, a notice must contain that information (at least);

(b) if a notice does not name any employees, that fact shall not be a ground for holding that it does not comply with paragraph (a) of subsection (3)."

(4) In subsection (7)--

(a) insert at the beginning the words "Subject to subsections (7A) and (7B),", and

(b) in paragraph (a) the words "otherwise than to enable the union to comply with a court order or an undertaking given to a court" shall cease to have effect.

(5) After subsection (7) insert--

"(7A) Subsection (7) shall not apply where industrial action ceases to be authorised or endorsed in order to enable the union to comply with a court order or an undertaking given to a court.

(7B) Subsection (7) shall not apply where--

(a) a union agrees with an employer, before industrial action ceases to be authorised or endorsed, that it will cease to be authorised or endorsed with effect from a date specified in the agreement ("the suspension date") and that it may again be authorised or endorsed with effect from a date not earlier than a date specified in the agreement ("the resumption date"),

(b) the action ceases to be authorised or endorsed with effect from the suspension date, and

(c) the action is again authorised or endorsed with effect from a date which is not earlier than the resumption date or such later date as may be agreed between the union and the employer."

(6) In subsection (9) for "subsection (7)" substitute "subsections (7) to (7B)". '.--[ Mr. Byers. ]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

(3) After subsection (1) there shall be inserted--

"(1A) If an officer seeks to inspect or acquire, in accordance with subsection (1)(b) or (c), a record or other document or information which is not kept at the premises being inspected, he may require any person on the premises--

(a) to inform him where and by whom the record, other document or information is kept, and

(b) to make arrangements, if it is reasonably practicable for the person to do so, for the record, other document or information to be inspected by or furnished to the officer at the premises at a time specified by the officer.

(1B) In subsection (1) "relevant business premises" means premises--

(a) which are used, have been used or are to be used for or in connection with the carrying on of an employment agency or employment business,

(b) which the officer has reasonable cause to believe are used or have been used for or in connection with the carrying on of an employment agency or employment business, or

(c) which the officer has reasonable cause to believe are used for the carrying on of a business by a person who also carries on or has carried on an employment agency or employment business, if the officer also has reasonable cause to believe that records or other documents which relate to the employment agency or employment business are kept there.

(1C) For the purposes of subsection (1)--

(a) "document" includes information recorded in any form, and

(b) information is kept at premises if it is accessible from them."

(4) For subsection (2) (self-incrimination) there shall be substituted--

"(2) Nothing in this section shall require a person to produce, provide access to or make arrangements for the production of anything which he could not be compelled to produce in civil proceedings before the High Court or (in Scotland) the Court of Session.

(2A) Subject to subsection (2B), a statement made by a person in compliance with a requirement under this section may be used in evidence against him in criminal proceedings.

(2B) Except in proceedings for an offence under section 5 of the Perjury Act 1911 (false statements made otherwise than on oath), no evidence relating to the statement may be adduced, and no question relating to it may be asked, by or on behalf of the prosecution unless--

(a) evidence relating to it is adduced, or

(b) a question relating to it is asked,

by or on behalf of the person who made the statement."

(5) In subsection (3) (offence)--

(a) for "or (b)" there shall be substituted ", (b) or (d)", and

(b) after the words "paragraph (c) of that subsection" there shall be inserted "or under subsection (1A)".

(6) In subsection (4)(a) (restriction on disclosure of information) in sub-paragraph (iv) (exception for criminal proceedings pursuant to or arising out of the Act) the words "pursuant to or arising out of this Act" shall be omitted.

Offences

5. After section 11 there shall be inserted--

"Offences: extension of time limit

11A.--(1) For the purposes of subsection (2) of this section a relevant offence is an offence under section 3B, 5(2), 6(2), 9(4)(b) or 10(2) of this Act for which proceedings are instituted by the Secretary of State.

(2) Notwithstanding section 127(1) of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 (information to be laid within 6 months of offence) an information relating to a relevant offence which is triable by a magistrates' court in England and Wales may be so tried if it is laid at any time--

(a) within 3 years after the date of the commission of the offence, and

(b) within 6 months after the date on which evidence sufficient in the opinion of the Secretary of State to justify the proceedings came to his knowledge.

(3) Notwithstanding section 136 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (time limit for prosecuting certain statutory offences) in Scotland proceedings in respect of an offence under section 3B, 5(2), 6(2), 9(4)(b) or 10(2) of this Act may be commenced at any time--

(a) within 3 years after the date of the commission of the offence, and

(b) within 6 months after the date on which evidence sufficient in the opinion of the Lord Advocate to justify the proceedings came to his knowledge.

(4) For the purposes of this section a certificate of the Secretary of State or Lord Advocate (as the case may be) as to the date on which evidence came to his knowledge is conclusive evidence.

Offences: cost of investigation

11B. The court in which a person is convicted of an offence under this Act may order him to pay to the Secretary of State a sum which appears to the court not to exceed the costs of the investigation which resulted in the conviction."

Interpretation

6. In section 13(2) (definition of employment agency) for "workers" (in each place) there shall be substituted "persons".'.--[ Mr. Byers. ]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

It does not say how they will agree those matters. The term "agree" always raises more questions than it answers. We are left wondering--unless it is spelt out somewhere else that I have not found yet--exactly what mechanism there is to give effect to that agreement.

That is if there is eventually a failure to agree, whereas paragraph 2(7) deals with a situation in which an agreement has been reached. That distinction needs to be made. For those reasons, we need paragraph 2(7), because it addresses a different situation in which there is a statutory recognition and the parties enter discussions to extend collective bargaining beyond the three areas. If those discussions subsequently break down, they revert back to the Central Arbitration Committee to establish procedures by which an agreement can be reached. I hope that that has clarified the matter for the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: No. 66, in page 20, leave out lines 3 and 4 and insert--

I beg to move amendment No. 7, in page 20, line 35, leave out '10' and insert '15'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst):

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 20, in page 22, line 43, leave out '10' and insert '15'.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move amendment No. 8, in page 23, line 48, at end insert--

'(c) the proposed recognition of the union or unions would contribute to good industrial relations.'.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: No. 71, in page 24, line 17, leave out

I beg to move amendment No. 37, in page 27, line 17, leave out from 'voting' to end of line 18.

I should like also to discuss amendment No. 38, in page 48, line 26, leave out from 'voting' to end of line 27.

Schedule 1 is concerned with the recognition of trade unions by employers for the purpose of conducting collective bargaining on behalf of the workers. Voluntary agreements are still promoted as the best solution, but schedule 1 legislates for statutory recognition. If more than half the workers are already union members and the CAC is satisfied that there is no need for a ballot, the union can be recognised automatically at that stage; otherwise, there will be a secret ballot of the work force.

In order for a trade union to succeed in a ballot on recognition under schedule 1, it must be supported by at least 40 per cent. of the work force--not just a simple majority of those voting. However, the 1997 Labour manifesto did not refer to any such threshold. It said:

"People should be free to join or not to join a union. Where they do decide to join and where a majority of the relevant workforce votes in a ballot for the union to represent them, the union should be recognised. This promotes stable and orderly industrial relations."

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 1, Noes 301.

Historical Hansard | Online Hansard |

Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 000.0%
Independent1 0 (+1 tell)0100.0%
Lab296 (+2 tell) 0071.8%
LDem0 000.0%
SNP0 1 (+1 tell)033.3%
UUP1 0010.0%
Total:298 1047.3%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

Sort by: Name | Constituency | Party | Vote

NameConstituencyPartyVote
no rebellions

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