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Strike Injunctions

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[Thanks to Ed McFarlane of EEF for preparing this case summary]

The Court of Appeal has handed down its decision in NURMT v Serco & combined cases, in which it overturned injunctions against strikes in both the RMT and ASLEF cases. The ASLEF appeal relied upon substantially the same grounds as part of the RMT case. 

The Judgment will help avoid "traps and hurdles" for Unions balloting on industrial action, probably making interim injunctions less achievable. 

The Court held:-

1. The provisions of S232B TULR(C)A 1992 allowing for accidental ballot errors to be disregarded can save a ballot where genuine and ultimately immaterial errors occur, in this case accidentally balloting two members not entitled to vote. 

2. The ballot notification provisions of S226A relating to information about the categories of workers entitled to vote only requires disclosure of information in the Union's possession. Whilst the information is to be as accurate as is reasonably practicable, there is no obligation to generate new information, or improve existing records. The Court dismissed concerns that a Union might be tempted to keep minimal records to reduce the information that it would need to provide to an employer. (Obiter) a de minimis breach of the duty to provide accurate figures can be disregarded. 

3. The requirement for an explanation as to how the lists and figures of employees in notices under S226A and S234A are reached merely requires explaining how those figures have been arrived at, and it is not onerous. It can be met by complying with paragraph 16 of the relevant ACAS code. The Court observed that the explanation would have to be "positively and materially misleading" before it breached the statutory requirements. 

4. There is no obligation on a Union to refer any particular categories of jobs in a notice, the statutory requirements are met by referring to general job categories, regardless of what categories might be used in, for example, pay negotiations.