Rishi Sunak is now looking at new widespread strike-busting legislation as the UK gets ready for a winter of disruption.
Sunak announced during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) today that “I have been working for new tough laws to protect people from” increasing strike action, with Number 10 announcing they will go beyond transport strikes.
Number 10 said “work is ongoing at speed” on the new legislation and that an announcement will be made surely on what the package will entail.
The government has already vowed to pass a strike-busting law that forces minimum service levels on public transport, however Number 10 said “it’s right” to now look further.
Sunak’s official spokesman said the government would not rule out banning ambulance drivers from striking, similar to current laws preventing police officers from walking off the job.
It comes as nurses, rail workers and other key workers are set to go on strike this month as a part of industrial action expected to cause chaos over Christmas.
“Hardworking families right now in this country are facing challenges, the government has been reasonable, it’s accepted the recommendations of an independent pay body, giving pay rises in many cases higher than the private sector,” Sunak said.
“If the union leaders continue to be unreasonable it is my duty to take action to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British public.”
It comes after transport secretary Mark Harper today said the government’s planned minimum service legislation won’t be in place any time soon.
Sunak came under fire yesterday for not delivering the law before the Christmas strikes, despite the policy being promised in the Tory party’s 2019 election manifesto.
Trades Union Congress (TUC) chief Frances O’Grady today said “ministers have seemed more interested in sabotaging talks than trying to resolve disputes”.
“With inflation running at 11 per cent, Rishi Sunak wants to make it harder for working people to win better pay and conditions,” she said.
“Rather than attempting cheap political pot shots, the government should be getting around the table and negotiating with unions about pay. So far, ministers have seemed more interested in sabotaging talks than trying to resolve disputes.”
O’Grady’s comments were echoed by Unite’s Sharon Graham, who said the union was “industrially and financially” ready to challenge the laws.