First, consider the legal definition of a trade union, and describe the mechanism by which a union can obtain a certificate of independence. We also consider the question of recognition, including the statutory right to recognition of trade unions, and the duty placed upon employers to disclose information for the purpose of collective bargaining.
We consider what protection trade unionists receive against discrimination by employers. We then go on to consider the law on industrial action. An individual who takes part in a strike is likely to be acting in breach of their contract of employment because it is a basic contractual obligation of the employee to be willing to serve.
Participating in other forms of industrial action short of a strike, such as a work-to-rule or a go-slow, will also often constitute a breach of the employment contract. But in this chapter, we shall be concentrating more on the liability of those who organize industrial action than of those who participate in it. This chapter does not deal with the relationship between trade unions and their members; readers who wish to explore this topic are referred to the textbooks in the Reading list at the end of the chapter.