Collective employee relations
Peaceful picketing at or near a person's own place of work for the purpose of obtaining or communicating information, or persuading others not to work, is lawful if it is in contemplation of furtherance of a trade dispute. However, this does not give the right to contravene byelaws made in pursuance of a power conferred by statute, holds the High Court in British Airports Authority v Ashton and others.
Where the terms of a collective agreement are incorporated into employees' contracts of employment, they may be varied from time to time by agreement between the trade unions and the employers, so that the individual contracts are also varied. But, says the Court of Appeal in Robertson and Jackson v British Gas Corporation, if the collective agreement is terminated by the unilateral withdrawal or its terms varied by unilateral action to which the other side does not agree, the individual contracts remain unaffected.
In MacShane and Ashton v Express Newspapers Ltd  IRLR 35 HL, the House of Lords held that the Court of Appeal had erred in granting an interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants from instructing NUJ members employed on national newspapers to "black" copy from the Press Association.
In The Bakers' Union v Clarks of Hove Ltd  IRLR 366 CA, the Court of Appeal held that the EAT had incorrectly set aside the finding by the Industrial Tribunal that the employers' insolvency was not a special circumstance rendering it not reasonably practicable for them to comply with the redundancy consultation provisions of the Employment Protection Act, section 99.
In Transport & General Workers' Union v Nationwide Haulage Ltd  IRLR 143 IT, the Industrial Tribunal held that the two sets of redundancies were not aggregated since there was no evidence that at the time of making the first set of redundancies there was an intention to follow them shortly with the second set.
In JE Broome v Director of Public Prosecutions  IRLR 26 HL, the House of Lords held that the appellant had no authority or excuse under the Industrial Relations Act, section 134 for willfully obstructing free passage along the highway contrary to the Highways Act, section 121.
In Secretary of State for Employment v ASLEF (No 2)  2 All ER 949 CA, the Court of Appeal held that works rules or job descriptions are not of themselves contractual. They are guides as to the way in which work should be performed and should be interpreted in a reasonable way. If interpreted in an unreasonable way in order to disrupt employment this will be breach of contract.
In Young v Canadian Northern Railway Company Limited  AC 83 JCPC, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council decided that a collective agreement was not intended to be legally binding between the parties to it. In addition it held that the employee could not claim that those parts of the agreement concerning employee benefits were automatically included in his contract.
In Conway v Wade  AC 506 HL, the House of Lords held that a jury was entitled to find that the conduct of an individual in attempting to induce an employer to dismiss an employee was not conduct in 'contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute' and provided guidance as to the meaning of those words.
Employment law cases: HR and legal information and guidance relating to collective employee relations.
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