Veale Wasbrough Vizards

UK 200 2013 position: 98

UK ban on secondary action remains lawful

By Joanne Oliver

The UK’s ban on secondary industrial action (also known as sympathy action) has been held to be lawful despite its interference with the European Convention on Human Rights Article 11 — the right to freedom of association and the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of the individual’s interests.

UK law does not offer protection to those involved in secondary strike action. Trade unions who encourage employees working for one employer to strike in support of employees involved in trade disputes with a different employer are therefore liable for inducing the sympathy strikers to breach their contracts of employment.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) brought a case before the European Court of Human Rights claiming that the ban on secondary action under UK law infringed Article 11…

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