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Employment Relations Act 1999

Suspension of industrial action

148.Section 234A of the 1992 Act provides for a trade union to send a notice to a person’s employer informing him that the union intends to call upon all or some of his employees to take industrial action. The notice must be received at least seven days in advance of the commencement of the action. The notice must specify if action is continuous or discontinuous.

149.Subsection 234A(7) deals with the position where continuous industrial action which has been authorised or endorsed by the union ceases to be so authorised or endorsed and is later authorised and endorsed again. It has the effect that the notice issued before the action ceased to be authorised or endorsed does not usually cover any action pursuant to the later authorisation or endorsement. This arrangement discourages unions from suspending industrial action to negotiate a settlement of the dispute because, if the negotiations fail, action cannot resume promptly because a fresh notice has to be issued at least seven days in advance.

150.Paragraph 11(5) inserts a new subsection (7A) into section 234A which defines the circumstances where, following a specified period in which the industrial action has been suspended by joint agreement between the union and the employer, the action can be resumed without the need to issue a fresh notice. The specified period of the suspension can be extended by joint agreement. It does not change the existing exemption whereby a union may resume industrial action which it suspended in order to comply with a court order or undertaking.

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