Q&As

Are there any penalties which can be imposed on a union for intimidating behaviour by its representative or individual employees on a picket line?

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Published on LexisPSL on 12/01/2018

The following Employment Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Are there any penalties which can be imposed on a union for intimidating behaviour by its representative or individual employees on a picket line?

The ‘right to picket’ provisions in section 220 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULR(C)A 1992) provide protection from any liability arising from a worker’s attendance at or near certain premises for the purpose of peaceful picketing. It is a right to be at a certain place so as to have the opportunity of persuading fellow workers and/or suppliers not to cross the picket line. The 'right to picket' does not itself include a right to persuade. However, the actions on a picket line may give rise to a number of potential liabilities in tort for both the pickets and the organising union (such as the ‘industrial tort’ of inducing a person to break a contract).

TULR(C)A 1992, s 220, provides no defence against any of these torts, but it may be possible by virtue of the statutory immunity offered by TULR(C)A 1992, s 219 to engage in the activity of peaceful persuasion without incurring liability, provided that:

  1. the person’s attendance and purpose fall within the peaceful picketing provisions

  2. the various other requirements for statutory immunity are fulfilled (for further information, see Practice Note: The right to take industrial action—Statutory immunity from liability)

  3. the action does not fall into a category in respect of which the statutory immunity is removed. For further information, see Practice Note: Unlawfu

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