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TUC accuses government of trying to “keep MPs in the dark” over scope of new anti-strikes Bill

  • Union body urges all Parliamentarians to reject “spiteful” legislation 

  • MPs are being forced to “vote blindly” on draconian new laws, union body warns 

  • Government is “ducking scrutiny” and “shortcutting” proper regulatory process, says TUC

  • TUC launches Freedom of Information request to discover why government has not published an impact assessment for Minimum Service Levels Bill 

The TUC has recently (Monday) accused the government of trying to “keep MPs in the dark” over the scope of its new anti-strikes legislation. 

The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill is back in parliament for its third reading and would give ministers sweeping new powers to restrict the right to strike. 

The TUC has launched a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to discover why the government published the Bill without a required impact assessment. 

Previous government advice – published in the Autumn – warned that minimum service levels in transport could poison industrial relations, and lead to more frequent industrial action.  

Despite this warning, the Conservatives are now proposing to extend minimum service levels to a range of other sectors including - health, education, fire, border security and nuclear decommissioning. 

Earlier this month the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) – a government-appointed body - criticised ministers for failing to provide MPs with an impact assessment on its new Minimum Service Levels bill. 

The RPC said: 

“Government departments are expected to submit impact assessments to the RPC before the relevant bill is laid before Parliament and in time for the RPC to issue an opinion alongside the publication of the impact assessment.   

“An impact assessment for this Bill has not yet been submitted for RPC scrutiny; nor has one been published despite the Bill being currently considered by Parliament. “ 

Far-reaching powers 

If passed, the Minimum Service Levels Bill will mean that when workers democratically and lawfully vote to strike they can be forced to work and sacked if they don’t comply. 

The TUC is calling on MPs of all parties to reject this spiteful legislation, which it says is “shortcutting” normal scrutiny procedures and being “steamrollered” through parliament without proper consultation and scrutiny. 

The bill gives ministers power to impose new minimum service levels through regulation.  

But consultations on how these regulations will work have not been published, and parliamentarians have been given few details on how minimum service levels are intended to operate. 

The TUC says the new legislation will “do nothing” to solve the current disputes across the public sector, and “only make matters worse”. 

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said:  

"The government is trying to keep MPs in the dark about the draconian nature of this Bill. 

“But make no mistake - this legislation will give ministers sweeping new powers to restrict the right to strike. 

“The government must not be allowed to duck scrutiny.  This spiteful legislation would mean that when workers democratically vote to strike, they can be forced to work and sacked if they don’t comply.   

“The Minimum Service Levels Bill is undemocratic, unworkable and almost certainly illegal. And crucially it will likely poison industrial relations and exacerbate disputes rather than help resolve them. 

“It is shameful that parliamentarians are being forced to vote blindly on such far-reaching new laws. We urge MPs from all parties to vote against this nasty Bill.” 

On the government’s railroading through of the Bill, Paul added: 

“The government is investing far more time and energy in steamrollering this Bill through parliament than it is on resolving disputes. 

“Instead of scheming up new ways to attack the right to strike, ministers should get pay rising across the economy – starting with a decent pay rise for public sector workers. 

“The staffing crisis blighting our public services will only get worse if the Conservatives continue to hold down wages in our schools, hospitals and crucial services.” 

Editors note

- About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.  

Original article link: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-accuses-government-trying-keep-mps-dark-over-scope-new-anti-strikes-bill

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