Government plans to introduce minimum service levels during strikes for public sectors

New laws introduced this week will allow employers in critical public sectors to maintain minimum levels of service during strikes.

The government will first consult on minimum service levels for fire, ambulance and rail services. The government said it “hopes to not have to use these powers for other sectors included in the Bill”, such as education, other transport services, border security, other health services and nuclear decommissioning.

The Bill gives the government the power to step in and set minimum service levels should that become necessary.

At the same time, the Trades Union Congress has vowed to fight the new strike curbs “every step of the way”, including through Parliament and the courts. Further, the TUC will hold a national ‘Protect the right to strike’ day on Wednesday 1 February.

The union body said the government’s new anti-strike plans are unworkable and almost certainly in breach of international law.

However, the government argued that the principle behind the new law “is already recognised in many countries across the world, such as Italy and Spain, where systems for applying minimum levels during strikes are in place for services the public depend on”.

It warned further: “As is the case currently a union will lose its legal protection from damages if it does not comply with the obligations set for them within the legislation.”

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