The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in Ineos Infrastructure Grangemouth Ltd v. Jones and others and Ineos Chemicals Grangemouth Ltd v. Arnott and others  EAT 82 has provided some much needed clarification on how sections 145B and 145D of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULRCA) are to be applied.
In short, these sections prohibit employers from inducing their workers to bypass collective bargaining agreements by agreeing terms individually. The case involved pay rise negotiations between Unite and Ineos in respect of Ineos’s workers. After five meetings, agreement had not been reached on the amount of the pay rise and Ineos decided to make a best and final offer via Unite. Despite this best and final offer, Unite was given authority by Ineos’ workers to try and negotiate a higher amount. Ineos, however, felt negotiations had broken down and wrote to its employees directly, stating that it would terminate the bargaining agreement with Unite and that a pay increase would be implemented as per their final “offer”.
The claimants brought claims for unlawful inducement contrary to section 145B of TULRCA and were successful at first instance. Ineos appealed to the EAT which held that: for the purposes of section 145B an “offer” to vary the employees’ pay had been made and this had been accepted by the employees continuing to work. The offer had the prohibited result of bypassing collective bargaining procedures and it was clear that this had been Ineos’ sole or main purpose in making their offer.
The takeaway from this case is that employers should make sure the collective bargaining process has been completely exhausted before making offers directly to their employees to avoid breaching TULRCA.