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High Court rejects strike injunction

05 April 2019 #Employment

The High Court has refused an application made by Birmingham City Council for an injunction to prevent strike action by Unite and Unison.

The Council had planned a restructure which would have created redundancies.  Unite and Unison balloted for strike action in response. GMB did not ballot their members. The restructure was averted and collective agreements signed with Unite and Unison. GMB members received a payment in settlement of claims for non-consultation.

Unite and Unison argued the payments to GMB members were actually rewards for not taking industrial action and asked for parity for their members. When this was refused, they balloted for further strike action which the Council sought to prevent by way of an injunction.

Unions are protected against tortious liability for encouraging employees to breach their contracts and go on strike provided certain conditions are met.  However, unions will not have this protection if their actions are motivated by the fact or belief that an employer has failed to discriminate against non-members.  The Council argued that the unions’ actions here were because it refused to discriminate against non-members (i.e. the GMB members).

The Court found this stretched the exclusion too far from its original purpose of preventing unions from forcing people to join and the real reason for action was to achieve parity between members (and thus did relate to discrimination faced by Unison and Unite members). The action was therefore outside the exclusion and the injunction was refused.

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
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Ciara Duggan

Ciara Duggan
Trainee Solicitor

T: 020 7539 8052
M: 0778 665 5903


Employment team
+44 (0)118 958 5321