Unions win court fight with UK Government over agencies filling in for strikers
Trade Unions have won a High Court fight with the UK Government after challenging law changes they said let agencies supply employers with workers to fill in for striking staff.
More than 10 unions, including Aslef, Unite and Usdaw, had taken legal action against ministers claiming the changes undermined the “right to strike”.
They argued that the 2022 Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations were unlawful.
On Thursday, Mr Justice Linden quashed the regulations having considered legal arguments at a High Court hearing in May.
Barrister Oliver Segal KC, who represented unions, had told the judge in a written case outline: “It is obvious that allowing employers unlimited freedom to replace striking workers with temporary agency workers, with at least two weeks’ notice to do so, undermines the right to strike.”
Responding to the judgment, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is a total vindication for unions and workers. The government’s decision to allow employers to recruit agency workers to undermine legal strike action was a cynical move to back their friends in business and weaken workers’ legal rights to withdraw their labour.
“It was entirely counterproductive as rather than weaken industrial action it has hardened attitudes and unnecessarily extended strikes. This ill-thought out, divisive legislation must be consigned to the dustbin of history.”
Mr Justice Linden said he upheld arguments put forward by unions and would “quash the 2022 regulations” which were introduced by former Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
Ministers disputed their claims, with Daniel Stilitz KC, who represented the Government, telling the judge that the law change was “modest”.
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