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Trade Unions (Ballots)

Volume 80: debated on Tuesday 11 June 1985

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35.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many unions have rule books which now comply with the provisions of the Trade Union Act 1984 relating to elections to the union executive.

A number of trade unions have made, or are considering making changes to their rule books to comply with this aspect of trade union legislation. Some specific examples are listed in my hon. Friend's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh) on Tuesday 12 February 1985 at columns 135–6. In some instances changes will not be required as existing rules already comply with the legislation.The duties imposed on trade unions by part I of the Trade Union Act 1984 will apply in all cases, irrespective of rule books, from 1 October 1985.

61.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied that the provisions of the Trade Union Act 1984 relating to ballots on political funds will ensure adequate opportunities for all trade union members to cast their votes.

The certification officer will not approve rules for political fund ballots unless they provide that so far as is reasonably practicable every member is given an opportunity to vote and unless they contain other stringent conditions designed to ensure a fair and secret ballot.

65.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied with the powers of the certification officer in relation to the conduct of trade union ballots.

I am satisfied with the powers of the certification officer in relation to the conduct of trade union ballots, as extended by the Trade Union Act 1984.He is now empowered to make inquiries into complaints by individual trade union members of non-compliance with the Act's requirements on the election of trade union leaders and, where appropriate, to make a declaration specifying the provisions which have been breached.In addition the Act extends the authority given to the certification officer by the Trade Union Act 1913 for approving the rules of political fund ballots. His approval may only be given where trade unions arrange for such ballots to meet new standards of secrecy and fairness.

73.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will introduce legislation to ensure that trades union ballots are independently organised and counted.

We have no immediate plans to introduce further legislation on the conduct of trade union ballots.The Employment Acts 1980 and 1982 and the Trade Union Act 1984 have taken significant steps to encourage the use of the ballot box as a means of reaching trade union decisions. These should lead to an increase in the number of ballots taking place and an improvement in the overall level of trade union democracy.

The legislation lays down stringent standards as to the conduct of ballots covering secrecy, freedom from intimidation and malpractice.