For the many constituents who contacted me on this issue, you will be pleased to hear that the Trade Union Bill received Royal Assent on 4 May 2016 and is now the Trade Union Act.

Key features of the Act are:

  • Ensuring that industrial action only ever goes ahead when there has been a ballot turnout of at least 50%

  • A 6 month time limit for industrial action to take place so that mandates are always recent

  • A clearer description of the trade dispute and the planned industrial action on the ballot paper to ensure that all union members are clear what they are voting for

  • A transparent process for trade union subscriptions that allows new members to make an active choice of paying into political funds

  • More powers given to the Certification Officer to ensure new and existing rules are always followed by unions

  • Ensuring that payroll deductions for trade union subscriptions are only administered where the cost is not funded by the public, thus ensuring transparency and greater accountability of the use of public money for facility time

  • Commissioning an independent review within 6 months on the delivery of secure methods of electronic balloting. 

I welcome these measures, which have been subject to close scrutiny by both the House of Lords and House of Commons during the Bill’s passage through Parliament, as well as the discussion between the front benches of the major Parties on this, in order to ensure as much consensus as possible in an admittedly difficult area.