Anti-strikes bill: Right to strike for millions of workers at risk says TUC

One in five workers would be affected by the new law

Around 20% of the British workforce have their right to strike under threat due to the Tory’s anti-strike bill, new research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has revealed.

The analysis found that 5.5 million workers in England, Scotland and Wales would be affected by the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, which threatens workers with the sack if they don’t attend work during strike action.

The bill is aimed at workers in health, education, fire, transport, border security and nuclear decommissioning and would give ministers new power to impose minimum service levels on industrial action in these industries.

Today sees the bill pass through its third reading in the House of Lords, having suffered a series of defeats at its last reading when all opposition amendments were voted through.

These included an amendment to stop frontline workers from getting sacked for striking, with the defeats hailed a “huge victory” for human rights by campaigners.

However, the legislation continues to make its way through the House of Lords and could still become law this year.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission warned that whole strikes could be deemed illegal under the legislation meaning striking workers would lose their unfair dismissal protection.

The House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has also recently criticised the bill for its sparing details stating that, “there is nothing in the bill saying what those minimum service levels are”.

While the TUC has continued to call for the government to drop the draconian legislation in its entirety, and believes the bill should provoke “serious opposition from UK politicians” due to the huge number of workers it would affect.

Ministers have also been accused by the union body of shortcutting normal scrutiny procedures and of ramming the bill through parliament.

Paul Nowak, TUC general secretary slammed the “spiteful” bill saying that no one should be sacked for trying to win a better deal at work.

“It’s undemocratic, it’s unworkable and it’s very likely illegal,” said Nowak.

“Ministers have tried to keep the public in the dark about the true nature of this Bill.

“They are ramming it through– shortcutting normal parliamentary procedures and ducking scrutiny. And they are giving themselves the power to snatch away the right to strike of five and a half million workers.

“With inflation still running at over 10%, the last thing workers need is for ministers to make it harder to secure better pay and conditions.

“It’s time for ministers to protect the right to strike and ditch this Bill for good.”

The legislation has come under a huge amount of scrutiny from across the globe, from race and gender equalities groups and from opposition MPs.  

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

Left Foot Forward’s trade union reporting is supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust

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