Trade unions and industrial actions

Close Up Of A Smiling Mechanic Inside His Auto Repair ShopThe role of a trade union is to represent its members in particular workplace by:

  • negotiating pay and conditions
  • implementing appropriate changes to the workplace
  • addressing grievances of their members
  • providing their members with the necessary legal and financial advice

Trade union membership: your employment rights

As an employee you can decide whether or not to be a member of any union, depending on whether they represent their members effectively. This means that you can join more than one union.

Your employer is not allowed to:

  • pressure you to leave a union or join a union of their choice
  • threaten or discriminate against you because of their dislike with a particular union or your own union activities
  • dismiss or render you redundant because of their dislike with your union’s activities

How about intolerance and injustices such as bullying and harassment?

First employers can make sure that they do the following:

  • make sure that employees are not shunned, because of their characteristics , by implementing inclusive measures and team building exercises that include everyone and help strengthen the relationship between employees and in the workplace
  • make clear that harassment and bullying is prohibited.
  • make sure victims of harassment and bullying are able to freely report this without fear of losing their job or being ridiculed by their colleagues
  • make sure employees know the consequences of bullying or harassing another employee in the workplace

If you are the victim of harassment or bullying, you need to make sure they are:

  • vocal about their mistreatment
  • contact the human resources department
  • contact the trade union, if their case is not being taken seriously or is badly dealt with in the workplace

Industrial actions

This takes the form of demonstrations, protesting or anything to draw attention to the action being taken for or against issues of employment.

An employer cannot legally force their employees to stay or go back to work, if an employee chooses to participate in an industrial action. The employer must be aware of the following:

  • They can choose not to pay the employee for work missed while demonstrating and protesting
  • They cannot dismiss the employee for participating in an industrial action if:
    • The union has called a properly organised ballot in correspondence with industrial action law
    • The union has given the employer the proper notice of the action. The appropriate 7 days notice before it begins (which includes a detailed notice about the industrial action).
    • It is about trade dispute between employees and their employer regarding the terms and conditions of employment.

If any of these conditions are not met and industrial action goes ahead, then an employer can dismiss an employee who takes part. If you are dismissed for taking part in an unlawful action, you will be unable for a claim of unfair dismissal IF all employees who participated in that action are dismissed too.

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