In recent times the issue of strikes has been hitting the headlines on an incredibly regular basis. Shortly after a planned five-day Junior Doctor strike was abandoned Southern rail have announced strike action of their own.
The Southern rail strike will be a total of 14 days long, with multiple small strikes scheduled between October and December, owing to a disagreement between train staff and company bosses.
One question that’s never fully cleared up in the articles, however, is how you actually go on strike and the legalities and risks of your job when doing so.
When can you strike?
You are able to take strike action as a Trade Union member as long as the following conditions are met:
- Your union must give your employer seven days’ notice that it is holding a ballot on strike action.
- The ballot is conducted by an external, neutral company.
- The majority of people voting agree to strike action.
- Your union gives your employer seven days’ notice of wen the action will take place.
I’m not in a union, can I strike?
Although you may not be part of the union at your place of work you may feel the need to support them if you feel strongly about the strike action. Fortunately, as long as the trade union has arranged the strike correctly, you are completely protected from dismissal and have the same rights as everyone else taking strike action if you wish to join them.
Can I be sacked for going on strike?
Assuming everything is correctly arranged by your union you cannot be dismissed for going on strike. Ou could, however, be dismissed for taking industrial action if:
- Your trade union has held the ballot incorrectly.
- The trade union hasn’t given your employer the correct amount of notice before commencing strike action.
- Your trade union hasn’t called their members into action, or someone without the authority to do so has called their fellow members into action.
- You’re supporting workers who are taking action against another employer.
- Any other part of industrial action law I broken.
Will I lose pay if I go on strike?
Whilst you are striking your employer is within their rights to not pay you your salary for those days and most employers won’t pay you for the duration of the action. It is therefore important to budget for this if you are considering joining with industrial action in your place of work.
Another impact of going on strike is that your employer will often reduce your length of service with them by the number of days you were on strike. So, for example, if you worked with a company for 365 days and spent 5 days striking, you would be classed as only having 360 days’ service with the business. This is important when working out things such as your pension and statutory redundancy pay which are directly related to the number of days you have worked for the business.