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Industrial Action Ballots

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[Thanks to Edward Kemp of 12 King's Bench Walk for providing this case summary]

The Court of Appeal has handed down its decision in Milford Haven Port Authority v UNITE, which is authority for the proposition that notice of separate, continuous and discontinuous industrial action can be given in the same document, provided that the notice otherwise satisfies the requirements of the provisions of the TULR(C)A 1992.

The Union gave notice of industrial action to the Port Authority in respect of launch crews and pilots of vessels navigating within Milford Haven. Each notice specified that the industrial action would be both continuous including measures such as an overtime ban and discontinuous consisting of a 48 hour stoppage.

The Port Authority challenged the validity of the notices and obtained an injunction. The High Court accepted the Port Authority's argument that s.234(A)(3)(b) of the TULR(C)A 1992 required a notice to specify disjunctively either continuous action or discontinuous action.

The Court of Appeal disagreed with this construction holding that the provision is disjunctive only in relation to particular action specified in the notice. The High Court's construction could generate more confusion than clarity. For example, more than one notice might cause concerns as to which is to be effective.