Industrial Action: The legalities

This explains the legal basis for striking and picket lines and the implications for NSEAD members

The legal position for NSEAD members when other trade unions take industrial action. 

It is unlawful for any member of the NSEAD to take industrial action where the NSEAD has not given a specific notice to the employer advising that action will be taken. This can only happen where a full ballot of members has been held and all legal requirements for industrial action have been satisfied. NSEAD's position is that a move to ballot for national strike action would only be called as a last resort and following a survey indicating majority support of membership to move towards ballot. The Society shall only issue instructions or call for industrial action following a secret postal ballot of all members concerned. Any such ballot for industrial action shall be conducted in accordance with the legal requirements and procedures set out in Appendix 2 of our Constitution and Rules..


Any decision regarding industrial action is taken by the members through democratic process NOT by the Executive (our elected Council) or any officer of the Society.

Where members of another trade union are involved in industrial action (and which NSEAD has not authorised and endorsed through a postal ballot of members), NSEAD members should:

  • make clear to the headteacher/principal that they will be reporting for work as normal; and
  • make clear that they will not accept any variation to their contracted duties and/or undertake the timetabled or other responsibilities of those engaged in action, including taking into their timetabled lessons pupils from classes of teachers who are involved in strike


On request, NSEAD will provide members with written notification of our position to present to their headteacher/principal.


Picket lines

Where a union taking strike action establishes a picket line, refusal to cross it would render a teacher who is not a member of a union taking strike action liable to disciplinary action, including the deduction of salary, as it would be considered as participating in unlawful industrial action.
NSEAD advises that members should cross the picket line having assured those picketing that they will not undertake work those on strike would normally have carried out

Should, as a matter of conscience, any NSEAD member directly support the actions taken by other unions, they should be aware that employers might take disciplinary action on the grounds of breach of contract. In such circumstances any disproportionate action would be vigorously contested by the Society.