Two Royal dockyards were placed under commercial management and the yards' employees were transferred into the employment of companies set up to run them. The plaintiffs, trade unions, brought proceedings in which they claimed that the Defence Secretary had not consulted them in accordance with his duty under the Dockyard Services Act 1986, which regulated the transfer. That Act re-enacted certain provisions of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 (SI 1981 1794)(the "1981 Regulations") which were introduced in Britain in pursuance of the EEC Business Transfer Directive 77/187.
Held, dismissing the action, that the Minister had fulfilled his statutory duties; he had taken all reasonable steps to inform the workforce and their representatives and to consult the unions on the introduction of commercial management into the dockyards. In case of ambiguity, the 1981 Regulations should be interpreted, if possible, in conformity with Directive 77/187.
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