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TUC slams "full-frontal assault” on the right to strike as ministers “steamroller” strikes bill through Commons

  • Government “ducking” proper scrutiny and consultation on strikes bill, warns TUC 

Rishi Sunak’s government has launched a “full-frontal assault” on the right to strike, the TUC has today said – as the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill was “steamrollered” through the Commons without proper scrutiny or consultation.  

The Bill was voted through this evening by MPs at its third reading. 

If passed, the Strikes 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 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. 

Today, 50 civil liberties organisations and rights groups, including Liberty, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam, penned an open letter condemning the Bill as an attack on the right to strike. 

Far-reaching powers 

The TUC has accused the government of “shortcutting” normal scrutiny procedures. 

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”. 

Commenting on the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill being voted through the Commons this evening, TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said:  

"Rishi Sunak's government has launched a full-frontal assault on the right to strike.  

“This draconian legislation would mean that when workers democratically vote to strike, they can be forced to work and sacked if they don’t comply.   

“And crucially it will likely poison industrial relations and exacerbate disputes, rather than help resolve them. 

“Ministers know this bill is undemocratic, unworkable and almost certainly illegal.  

“That's why they are ducking proper scrutiny and consultation - and it’s why this bill was steamrollered through the Commons so quickly. 

“With inflation running at over 10%, the last thing working people need is for ministers to make it harder to secure better pay and conditions. 

“Conservative ministers must drop this spiteful bill and protect the right to strike – a fundamental British liberty.” 

Editors note

- Civil liberties and rights groups’ open letter can be found on the Liberty website 

- 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-slams-full-frontal-assault-right-strike-ministers-steamroller-strikes-bill-through-commons

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