Government Review Into The Law Governing Industrial Disputes


An independent review will make recommendations to ensure effective workforce relationships


Published on 05 April 2014


by Cabinet Office

(WireNews+Co)

London, England

Cabinet Office
Cabinet Office

An independent review into the legal implications of alleged intimidation tactics, announced by the government in November, was launched by the government today. The review will examine the law around so-called ‘leverage’ tactics used by trade unions in industrial disputes, as well as the role of employers in such disputes.

The review will be led by leading industrial relations lawyer Bruce Carr QC and will make proposals and recommendations for change.

The government has a keen interest in the resilience of critical industrial infrastructure. Resilience cannot be guaranteed without effective workforce relationships. These relationships, and the law that governs them, have consequences both for the operation of particular, critically important, facilities, as well as more widely in the economy, at both a local and national level. Therefore, the government wants to assess whether the current legislation dealing with activities taking place during industrial disputes is fit for the 21st century.

The review’s Terms of Reference are to provide an assessment of the:

  • alleged use of extreme tactics in industrial disputes, including so-called leverage tactics
  • effectiveness of the existing legal framework to prevent inappropriate or intimidatory actions in trade disputes

The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude said:

"This government’s long-term economic plan is building a stronger, more competitive economy to secure a better future for Britain.

"Trade unions can play a constructive role in the modern workplace, but allegations of union industrial intimidation tactics – which include attempts to sabotage business supply chains – are very serious and may be damaging our economy’s competitiveness, which would make our future less secure.

"That’s why it’s right to have this review to get to the bottom of these tactics and to determine whether the existing law is effective."

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

"Strong and effective relations between employers and workers were crucial in safeguarding British jobs during the worst of the economic crisis.

"These strong industrial relations will continue to be at the heart of our economic recovery and I am keen to see balanced input from both sides on how to improve them further. This is especially important for sites that form part of our critical national infrastructure.

"We are determined to make the UK the best place in Europe to start and grow a business. Good industrial relations and a flexible labour market are key strengths of our economy. We must safeguard these if we are to continue to attract business investment in the years ahead."

Full terms of reference

Independent review of the law governing industrial disputes – terms of reference

The government has a keen interest in the resilience of critical industrial infrastructure. Resilience cannot be guaranteed without effective workforce relationships. These relationships, and the law that governs them, have consequences both for the operation of particular, critically important, facilities, as well as more widely in the economy, at both a local and national level. Therefore, the government wants to assess whether or not the current legislation dealing with activities taking place during industrial disputes is fit for the 21st century.

Terms of reference

The terms of reference of the review will be to provide an assessment of the:

  • alleged use of extreme tactics in industrial disputes, including so-called ‘leverage’ tactics; and the
  • effectiveness of the existing legal framework to prevent inappropriate or intimidatory actions in Trade Disputes.

The review will make proposals and recommendations for change.

The Review will be led by an independent senior lawyer from outside government. The senior lawyer will be supported by a Secretariat drawn from officials from BIS and Cabinet Office and across government.

The senior lawyer will report jointly to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Minister for the Cabinet Office. The government will consider the proposals and recommendations and its response and position will be agreed collectively in the normal way.


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Posted 2014-04-05 17:22:00