Pre-strike ballots and collective bargaining: the impact of quorum and ballot mode requirements on access to lawful industrial action

Breen Creighton, Catrina Denvir, Richard Johnstone, Shae McCrystal, Alice Orchiston

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3 Citations (Scopus)


In 2016, the UK Parliament passed the Trade Union Act 2016 (TU Act 2016), which introduced new quorum and approval requirements for pre-strike ballots. In Australia, mandatory pre-strike ballots, including a quorum requirement, were first introduced in 2006. This article explains the key features of the Australian pre-strike ballot system and reports on quantitative and qualitative empirical research findings on the operation of the ballots process to analyse the majority and quorum requirements, mode of ballot (postal, attendance or electronic) and choice of ballot agent. Quorum is the biggest obstacle to Australian unions authorising strike action under the pre-strike ballot rules, and postal ballots fail to reach quorum at significantly higher rates than do attendance ballots. By introducing quorums and retaining the requirement that all pre-strike ballots must be conducted by post, the TU Act 2016 endorsed the two factors under the Australian regime most likely to impede the authorisation of strike action in a pre-strike ballot.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-376
Number of pages34
JournalIndustrial Law Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


  • labour law
  • strike ballots
  • industrial action
  • empirical legal research

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