Warning of non-compliance with new law on strikes
The UK Government is on a collision course with unions over its controversial plans to ensure minimum levels of service during strikes, amid warnings of “non-compliance and non-co-operation” to make the legislation unworkable.
Ministers are pressing ahead with regulations setting out the level of services which must be provided in future strikes in sectors including the railways, the NHS, Passport Office and Border Force.
There was a brief mention in the King’s Speech on Tuesday of minimum service levels in the NHS to “prevent strikes undermining patient safety”.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, whose members have been involved in a series of strikes this year over pay and conditions, accused the Government of making a “blatant attack” on trade unionists.
He said: “This hostile legislation is an attempt by one of the most right-wing governments in recent history to essentially criminalise the act of strike action and to punish civil servants, railway workers and ambulance staff for their audacity over the past year to demand a fair pay rise at a time of skyrocketing inflation.
“Given the important nature of the work that our members in the Border Force and Passport Office carry out, this legislation, which is at odds with international law, is dangerous and reckless.
“That is why we will have no choice but to resist this vindictive attack on our members and workers across the movement by building mass opposition, which may include a strategy of non-compliance and non-co-operation to make this legislation unworkable.”
Christina McAnea, general secretary of Unison, said the Government was “wasting” time and energy attacking unions.
She said: “Pathetic assaults on the right to strike are against working people and aren’t popular.”
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “We believe employers have the discretion not to issue minimum service work notices and as such we are calling on them not to issue them.
“Any employer that seeks to issue a work notice will find themselves in a further dispute with my union.”
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