News story

Picketing code to be updated to tackle intimidation

Guidance on picketing is to be updated to tackle the intimidation of people during industrial action.

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A series of proposals, including a new criminal offence for unlawful picketing, were consulted on over the summer.

The 8-week consultation, ‘Tackling intimidation of non-striking workers’, found evidence of people being intimidated by individuals on picket lines and as well as use of social media to intimidate workers who have chosen not to strike.

Having analysed almost 200 responses the government has decided that more needs to be done to remind all parties of their rights and responsibilities.

So we are updating 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.

Business Minister Nick Boles said:

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.

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.

Published 4 November 2015