This morning John McDonnell MP's private members' bill the "Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill" was put before the Commons. The bill amends existing legislation on strikes to prevent employers using minor technical errors in balloting and reporting processes to win court injunctions banning strikes. Here are five recent examples:
A late fax: In 2008, bus drivers at Metrobus had their strike banned because their union had taken 48 hours to fax the results of their strike ballot to their employer. The court injunction was granted over the delay in communication despite the fact that the vote was held in August, with action planned for October. The strike ballot had passed with a 90% majority.
Two bits of paper: This year port workers in Milford Haven had their February strike blocked after the union's notice that they were taking both "discontinuous" and "continuous" strike action was presented to employers on a single sheet of paper. The notices should have been given on separate pieces of paper. The strike action had to be rescheduled to take place at a later date, in order to meet the legal requirement.
A polling error: Late last year 12,500 British Airways cabin crew voted to strike by a 90% majority, on an 80% turnout, with 97% of the workforce being union members. However, BA discovered that about 800 of the workers balloted had already agreed to take future voluntary redundancy, rendering them ineligible to take part in the ballot and invalidating the entire procedure, along with the massive mandate.
A reporting error: In 2007 sorting office workers and delivery staff were prevented from striking after Royal Mail gained an injunction on the basis that the union did not tell the employer exactly how many employees they had. The CWU argued that this would have been an impressive feat in a workplace with such a high turnover. A solid 77% of workers had voted for the strike on a turnout of 66%, but this mandate was overturned because of the technicality.
11 spoilt ballots: In May of this year British Airways cabin crew received a court injunction banning their strike on the basis that Unite had failed to notify those balloted of 11 spoilt ballots counted during the poll of over 10,000 workers, who had overwhelmingly voted for the action. The ruling was eventually overturned after an appeal.