The Welsh Government is looking at ways that it can block parts of the Trade Union Act 2016 that is soon to be introduced across Great Britain. If the block is successful, it will mean that trade union activity in Wales will operate differently to England and Scotland.

Trade Union Act 2016
The Trade Union Act 2016 recently received Royal Assent and will, upon implementation, make changes to what is considered to be a lawful strike. In some ways, it makes it more difficult for employees to take part in a lawful strike because thresholds in terms of interest from the workforce will need to be higher.

The View of the Welsh Government
The Welsh Government is of the opinion that the provisions of the Act have an impact on the delivery of public services – in health, education and the fire service. Delivery of public services is a devolved matter meaning that the Welsh Government has the power to make its own decisions in that area. It believes then, that because it is entitled to take measures in relation to the delivery of those services that could be affected by the Act, that it has the power to reverse changes made by the Act.

Which Measures May Be Affected?
The precise parts of the Act that the Welsh Government will look to overturn have not been confirmed yet. However, it is likely to be:

• The requirement for 40% agreement of those entitled to vote to be in favour of the industrial action;
• The requirement for public sector authorities to publish information on ‘facility time’ i.e. time taken off work by employees in order to carry out trade union activities;
• The restriction on public sector employers automatically making deductions from workers’ pay for trade union subscriptions.

When Might This Happen?
The provisions of the Trade Union Act are not yet in force and so the Welsh Government has time yet. However, it may want to make preparatory steps at this stage because there may well be a period of time after the introduction of the Act’s provisions but before the implementation of the Welsh legislation overturning those provisions – if of course this could happen at all – where the new provisions would apply.

Education Business Partner Dave Carey commented: The interaction of devolved and non-devolved matters has been tested before to Wales’ advantage. Another successful attempt regarding the Trade Union Act could mean that education establishments in Wales retain current rules on strike action thresholds.