Trade Union Freedom Bill

1. Introduction
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Trade unions must comply with extensive rules, around notice periods and ballots, before they may take lawful industrial action. These regulations place heavy financial and bureaucratic burdens on unions. They slow down the process by which trade unions can take industrial action, and prevent unions from taking action in solidarity with others.

The power to change this is devolved to Stormont but there have been no attempts to reform these laws until now. Gerry Carroll, West Belfast MLA for People Before Profit, is bringing forward the Trade Union Freedom Bill. In the questions below, he seeks your views on his proposed changes to trade union freedoms. The consultation will remain open for 8-12 weeks. 

The Trade Union Freedom Bill (TUFB) seeks to change four elements of the law, in order to allow trade unionists to engage more quickly and effectively in industrial action:
  1. Remove the ban on solidarity/secondary action 
  2. Remove the legal requirement for postal/secret ballots
  3. Reduce the notice period mandated before a ballot for industrial action can be taken
  4. Simplify the nature of the information which unions are required to provide in ballot notice to the employer
If passed, this Bill could be the first step toward re-introducing a balance of power in the workplace, and creating trade union legislation which is fit for the 21st century, after COVID-19.

In recent years, privatisation, outsourcing and restructuring of companies and services has become widespread. We are likely to see more mass redundancies and huge cost-cutting exercises at the expense of workers, because of the impending economic crisis. Yet trade unions had greater freedom to challenge these issues over 100 years ago than they do now.

We believe it is time we restored the ability of trade unions to protect workers.  The Trade Union Freedom Bill is inspired by a piece of legislation of the same name which was advanced by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Britain, and which received widespread support from trade unions. 


1. We believe it is vitally important that the views of Trade Unionists are central to this consultation process. Please indicate below whether you are, or have ever been, a member of a trade union.

If you are a member of a trade union, please consider providing the name of that trade union, and the role you play, in the box below. e.g. I am a member of XXXX trade union and I am a shop steward.

We respect your privacy and appreciate that not everyone would like to disclose this information - it is entirely optional.