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LUL: Guidance on strike action

7 July 2015

Strike action by TSSA and the other three recognised trades unions in London Underground, RMT, ASLEF and Unite, is going ahead tomorrow. The 24 hour strike starts at 18.30 on Wednesday, 8 July. Below are answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about taking strike action.



Do I have to tell my employer that I am taking strike action?


It is often the case that management will send out formal-sounding letters telling you to declare in advance whether you will be taking industrial action. This can have the effect of misleading and intimidating members.

To be clear, you are under NO OBLIGATION to inform management in advance as to whether you will be taking part in strike action or action short of a strike. In order to fulfil legal requirements, employers have been provided with statistical information about TSSA members taking industrial action, but not individual names. However, if your manager asks you after the strike whether you took action, you should answer truthfully.


What are the exemptions to taking strike action?


All TSSA members (except senior managers) are expected to participate in industrial action following the outcome of their ballot which demonstrated a significant majority in favour of strike action.


Do I have to reschedule the work that I have missed?


No, the union's advice is that you do not reschedule work, including meetings. The point of taking action is to cause disruption in order to persuade the employers to return to negotiations.


I have external commitments on the day(s) of the strikes, should I cancel?


If your commitments are part of your normal work for London Underground you should not attend them. This includes training or outside meetings.


How late can someone join the union and still take part in strike action?


People can join the union at any point up to and including on the picket line on the day of action and lawfully join the strike. However, you must ensure to complete a membership form and hand in to TSSA. This then ensures that you receive the employment protection associated with acting under the authority of a lawful ballot.


Am I breaking my contract by taking strike action?


All effective industrial action may be a breach of your contract of employment. However, because TSSA is conducting a statutory ballot and any action will be called formally, the law protects workers from dismissal whilst taking part in lawful industrial action or at any time within 12 weeks of the start of the action and, depending on the circumstances, dismissal may also be unfair if it takes place later.


How much money will I lose?


You should expect to have your salary deducted by an amount proportionate to the duration of the strike. For instance, for a one day strike this will mean a deduction of one day’s pay. There may be disagreement about what a day’s wages are. If there is no agreement, the maximum deduction allowable should be 1/260th of the annual salary. Any loss greater than this may be challenged by the union.


What if I am part time?


TSSA believes that any deduction must be pro-rata for part time staff. The deduction must only be for your contracted hours. Please contact TSSA for support in challenging any greater loss.


Does strike action affect my continuous service?


Although a strike is technically a breach of contract of employment, it does not break continuous service if the worker returns to work after the strike ends. However, days of strike action will not count towards any relevant qualifying periods for such things as unfair dismissal, redundancy and pensions.


How will the strike affect my pension?


With most pension schemes, absence on a day’s strike will not count towards pensionable service. The pay lost will reduce the average pay used in any calculation on benefits. It may be possible to buy back the service lost, but in many instances the amount lost will be so small it is not worthwhile.


What is the law on picketing?


Peaceful picketing is entirely legal. Picketing should be carried out at or near an entrance or exit from a site at which the members work. When others who are not in dispute come into work or use these entrances or exits, pickets must not interfere with them.


I am not a TSSA member. Can I take part in the strike?


We would like everyone to respect the picket lines and not go into work, but if you are not a TSSA member (or a member of another union taking part in the industrial action) you leave yourself open to disciplinary action if London Underground decided to take disciplinary action against you, because joining the strike action would be unlawful in this instance. In addition, we will not be able to support you as a non-trade union member. . If you wish to join the strike, then you should join the union and be thus receive the protection of acting under the authority of a lawful ballot.


What are the guidelines on picketing?


The point of the picket is to peacefully persuade members not to cross our picket lines ie. to not go into work. Picketing is a lawful activity and picketers should wear an armband indicating they are on duty. Placards and posters should be displayed stating 'OFFICIAL PICKET'. Reps and members should ensure we have effective pickets in line with the guidelines issued.

It is also an opportunity to give out information about your dispute to the general public such as leaflets in explaining the reasons why you are on strike.

Each picket should identify a lead organiser who can act as a main point of contact and whose function should ensure:

· There is an official TSSA placard on display

· Liaise with the police if required.

In accordance with standard practice TSSA has already notified both Metropolitan and British Transport Police that Strike action and picket lines will be in place at locations across the London Underground tube network including stations and depots.

In the unlikely event that an altercation happens on a picket line involving the police, this must be reported to the TSSA helpdesk immediately (0800 328 2673) or to a member of TSSA paid staff. A telephone contact list has been circulated in briefing packs with all relevant phone numbers and is available for collection alongside TSSA placards and leaflets.

Q: What is the number of people allowed on a picket line?

The Government’s Code of Practice on Picketing says, “pickets and their organisers should ensure that in general terms the number of pickets does not exceed six at any entrance to a workplace; frequently a smaller number will be appropriate.” This figure is only advisory and in practice the place will seldom be concerned about numbers on a peaceful picket line.


Will participating in strike action affect my entitlement to statutory maternity pay (SMP)?


No, a woman on maternity leave while the strike takes place retains her right to maternity pay. You are entitled to SMP (subject to fulfilling the other statutory requirements) if you have been continuously employed for 26 weeks ending with the week immediately preceding the 14th week before the expected week of confinement (EWC).


What if I am on sick leave?


Workers who are absent on sick leave when stoppage of work starts retain their right to statutory sick pay during the period of industrial action. If an employee reports as sick on the day the action starts, in the absence of a medical certificate, then the employer may make their own judgement as to whether the employee should be regarded on sick leave or on strike.


What’s the situation if I have annual leave?


Where strike action begins during a member’s annual leave, the employer can be expected to treat them as on leave and not on strike.



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