Rishi Sunak not ruling out ‘tough laws’ to ban NHS strikes
As NHS workers prepare to take part in industrial action over pay, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is not ruling out extending “tough” new anti-strike laws to prevent walkouts.
Industrial action chaos will sweep across Wales during the festive period with Royal Mail, Rail, DVSA, and NHS staff all set to strike.
Legislation to ensure minimum service levels on the transport network during industrial action could be widened to other public services including emergency services.
The Welsh Government health and social services minister, Eluned Morgan said she is “saddened” by the prospect of NHS industrial action but without investment from Westminster the pay offer could not be increased.
Ms Morgan told Plenary: “There is simply no money to increase our pay offer without substantial cuts to staffing and essential services.”
Rishi Sunak appeared to rule out meeting union demands for pay rises for public sector workers to head off strikes before the end of the year.
The Prime Minister said “we’re looking at all options” but declined to give any details of timings or how measures will work.
Thousands of soldiers have been preparing to cover for ambulance crews, border staff and other striking workers, prompting complaints from the military that they were being forced to give up Christmas.
Speaking during a visit to an RAF base in Lincolnshire, the Prime Minister said: “I’m not going to get into details now, we’re looking at all options.
“My priority is to always be reasonable – and that’s what we’re going to continue to do – but also to make sure we protect lives and minimise the disruption to people’s lives.”
The Prime Minister said the nation should be grateful to army personnel for easing some of the strain.
A No 10 spokesman told reporters outside Downing Street: “I’m not in a position today to set out any details that we’re still working on.
“The minimum service legislation is in Parliament. It’s for the Leader of the House to set out the timeline for that to progress through Parliament.”
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the Government wants to avoid agreeing to the pay demand of striking workers as it will risk locking in high inflation across the UK economy.
The Chancellor said: “If we make the wrong choices now, we won’t have that 3.7% of inflation in January or February of 2024 and this will change from being a one-off problem, to being a permanent problem, which will be the worst possible thing for people working in public services.
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