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‘(1) Workplace ballots and balloting by electronic means, shall be permitted in the types of trade union ballots specified in subsection (2) with effect from the commencement date for sections 2 and 3 (Ballot thresholds for industrial action);
(2) The types of trade union ballots to which subsections (1) and (3) apply are those referred to in Chapters IV (elections for certain positions), V (industrial action), VI (political resolutions) and VII (approval of instruments of amalgamation or transfer).
(3) In relation to the ballots referred to in subsection (2)—
(a) the employer shall be under a duty to co-operate generally in connection with the ballot with the union, which shall include not undertaking surveillance of, intercepting or otherwise interfering with any communications between the union and its members, and with any person appointed in accordance with section 226B of the Act (Appointment of Scrutineer); and
(b) every person who is entitled to vote in the ballot shall be permitted to do so without interference or constraint imposed by any employer of the union’s members, or any of its employees or any person its behalf.
(4) Where in any proceedings an employer claims, or will claim, that a union has failed to comply with any requirement referred to in subsection 226 of the Act (Requirement of ballot before action by trade union), the union will have a complete defence to those proceedings if the employer has failed to comply with any part of its duty under subsection (3)(a) or it, or any of its employees or any person on its behalf, has imposed any interference or constraint of a type referred to in subsection (3)(b).
(5) In this section—
(a) “Workplace ballot” means a ballot in which votes may be cast in the workplace by such means as is or are determined by the union. Such means of voting in the workplace determined by the union may, but are not required to, include electronic means; and
(b) “electronic means” means such electronic means as is or determined by the union and, in each case, where section 226B of the Act (Appointment of Scrutineer) imposes an obligation on the union, is confirmed by the person appointed in accordance with that section, before the opening day of the ballot as meeting the required standard.
(6) Where electronic means are determined by the union, and, if applicable, confirmed by the person appointed under section 226B of the Act as meeting the required standard as provided for in subsection (5), the means of voting in the ballot shall also include postal voting, or some means of voting in a workplace ballot other than electronic means, where determined by the union and, in a case in which section 226B of the Act imposes an obligation on the union (Appointment of Scrutineer), confirmed by the person appointed in accordance with that section as being reasonably necessary to ensure that the required standard is satisfied.
(7) For the purpose of subsections (5) and (6), a workplace ballot or means of electronic voting satisfies ‘the required standard’ for the ballot if, so far as reasonably practicable—
(a) those entitled to vote have an opportunity to do so;
(b) votes cast are secret; and
(c) the risk of any unfairness or malpractice is minimised.
(8) Any provision of the Act shall be disapplied to the extent necessary to give effect to this section.”—(Chris Stephens.)
Brought up, and read the First time.
Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.
The House divided:
Ayes 268, Noes 301.