The government is updating guidance on picketing in order to tackle the intimidation of people during industrial action. A series of proposals, including a new criminal offence for unlawful picketing, were considered and developed over the summer.
The eight week consultation found evidence of people being intimidated by individuals on picket lines as well as the use of social media to intimidate workers who have chosen not to strike.
In response the government will update the code of practice on picketing, particularly around social media, and working with the police to make sure they use laws already in place to tackle intimidation.
“The Trade Union Bill will balance the rights of everyone – whether they are union members taking part in lawful picketing or those not striking who simply want to go about their business without intimidation,” Business Minister Nick Boles commented.
“So we will update the code of practice on picketing setting out the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved and work with the police to raise awareness of the criminal sanctions already available to deal with intimidation.”
The government has also made amendments to clause 9 of the Trade Union Bill to make it clear that a trade union has to confirm a picket line on the supervisor’s letter of authorisation, not the name of the picket supervisor.
The amendments also mean the picket supervisor is only required to show the letter of authorisation to the relevant employer or an individual acting on behalf of the employer, such as a solicitor, rather than ‘any other person who reasonably asks to see it’ as currently drafted in the bill.