Industrial action

This section includes information on official industrial action; unofficial industrial action; repudiation of industrial action; and lawful industrial action.

Industrial action

This is a concerted stoppage of work or action short of strike that is taken by employees in contemplation of furtherance of a trade dispute.  More information on forms of industrial action can be found on the NI Direct website by clicking on the link in the “Links for employees” section. 

Official industrial action

This is action that is called by someone who is authorised to do so by the trade union’s rule book. 

Unofficial industrial action

This is action that is called by someone who is not authorised to do so and is viewed as unlawful.  In order to preserve immunity from legal action taken by an employer, a trade union must take steps to repudiate unofficial industrial action.

Repudiation of industrial action

A trade union must repudiate unofficial industrial in order to protect itself from legal proceedings by an employer.  The trade union must:

  • give written notice of the repudiation to the committee or shop steward without delay and as soon as it is reasonably practicable after it comes to the knowledge of any of the union’s executive committee members, president or general secretary; and
  • take all reasonable action to issue written notices repudiating the action again without delay to every union member whom it believes is taking or could take part in industrial action.  The following wording should be included:

“Your union has repudiated the call for industrial action to which this notice relates and will give no support to unofficial industrial action taken in response to it.  If you are dismissed while taking unofficial industrial action, you will have no right to complain of unfair dismissal.”

The union must also give similar written notice to the employer of every such union member.

Lawful industrial action

This is action that has been carried out in response to a ballot for industrial action. 

Code of practice

The Department for the Economy has published a code of practice on industrial action ballots and notice to employers, which can be accessed in the “External links” section.

Last updated: 25 July 2019