In this introduction to a special issue on the Trade Union Act 2016 (TUA), we consider the background and context in which the new legislation was enacted and then outline briefly the actual provisions which were in fact adopted after the full parliamentary process had been followed. These were by no means identical to the Government’s original proposals and involved political compromise in the build up to the Brexit referendum. As the contributions to this special issue demonstrate, the motivations and justifications behind the reforms were multiple, sometimes unexpressed, and far from straightforward. Here, we review the conclusions reached by the authors, and offer some thoughts of our own regarding the new mechanisms for controlling unions in the TUA. We conclude by suggesting strategies that workers and their organisations might deploy in resisting these controls, while conceding the limitations of these responses.