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Warning of non-compliance with new law on strikes

07 Nov 2023 2 minute read
General secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, Mark Serwotka – Photo: Aaron Chown PA Media

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.

Hostile legislation

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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Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
5 months ago

If we are going to have legislation for minimum levels of service, it should perhaps first be trialled with Ministers and MPs. Thus Ministers would no longer be able to duck negotiating with Public Sector Trades Unions. MPs would no longer be able to swan off on all sorts of paid jaunts and failing to provide surgeries for their constituents. If that can be shown to work well, then it sets a precedent. We could then also look at the issue of mimimum service level bonus payments to those workers, compelled to work against their wishes, who should be justly… Read more »

5 months ago

Minimum service levels in industries that have been run into the ground, sold off, set up for a sell off over the last 13 years? OK, strict work to rule, no voluntary overtime, if there is a strike, they will have difficulty filling all the posts if they all walk out (without the union being involved). Never underestimate the malice of this government to the people that create the wealth for the few, if they get back in, this is the start. They are already pushing idea’s that would make Putin proud. People fought long and hard for workers rights,… Read more »

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