Having considered the facts of the case and the information supplied in the pre-strike ballot the Court of Appeal was of the opinion, contrary to the judge's findings, that this case was to be regarded as a "trade dispute" and was not simply a case raising issues of public policy.Appeal from the decision of HH Judge Brunning made on 16 March 2001 at the High Court dismissing the case of the claimant ('UNISON') and granting an injunction against its members calling a strike. The substantial matter in this appeal was whether UNISON could lawfully call out on strike its members who were employed by the respondent council ('the council'). Three grounds arose in the appeal. Firstly, as to a whether there was a "trade dispute", it was not argued between the parties that such a strike call would constitute the tort of inducement of breach of the contracts of employment of the council's staff, but UNISON sought to rely on the immunity from that liability provided by s.219 Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. So far as was material, that section provided immunity if the strike call (the inducement to the breach of contract) was in contemplation or furtherance of a "trade dispute", the latter being statutorily defined by s.244 of the Act, and so far as was material meant a dispute between workers and their employer that related wholly or mainly to one or more of: (i) terms and conditions of employment, (ii) engagement or non-engagement, or termination of employment or the duties of employment of one or more workers, and (iii) whether the strike call was in furtherance of such a trade dispute. The judge held that it was not. In order to gain the immunity for a trade dispute, the union should also have served, through s.226A(1)(a), a notice on the employer prior to a pre-strike ballot of members. This notice needed to be in writing (s.226A(2)). The second issue therefore was whether the notice served by UNISON contained sufficient information to fulfil the requirements of that section. The third, more general issue, was whether the judge should have taken into account the balance of convenience and exercised his discretion by weighing the competing factors.
To find out more about what cookies are, which cookies we use on this website and how to delete and block cookies, please see our Which cookies we use page.