Government to push through laws which would ban strikes among some public sector workers
The UK Government is to introduce a set of strike-busting laws as public sector unions continue to ballot members on ongoing industrial action.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced the introduction of a bill in Parliament over the coming weeks,
Over recent months, strikes – especially those on the railway network – are believed to have impacted hundreds of thousands of people and businesses, and cost the UK economy hundreds of millions.
Network Rail told City A.M. this week’s disruption – which started on Tuesday and will end on Saturday – is estimated to have cost the railway industry around £110m.
Railway workers have not been the only ones to down tools over salaries and jobs, as nurses, teachers and Border Force staff have also staged industrial action in recent weeks.
Ministers said minimum service levels during strike days will be guaranteed for fire, ambulance and rail services.
In other sectors – including education, border force and health services – the government said it would only look to ban strikes if agreements with unions fell through.
Grant Shapps, the Business Secretary, said legislation, “will restore the balance between those seeking to strike and protecting the public from disproportionate disruption.”
The controversial bill – whose implementation has been in the cards since the summer – has faced the Labour Party’s stern opposition.
Angela Rayner, deputy leader, said: “It’s insulting to key workers that Rishi Sunak thinks that threatening teachers and nurses with the sack will end strikes.”
Rayner’s words were echoed by Sir Keir Starmer, who said his party would “likely repeal” the anti-strike laws if it wins the next general election.
Sharon Graham, general secretary of the union Unite, accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of “silly posturing.”
“Whatever the latest scheme the government comes up with to attack us, unions will continue to defend workers,” Graham said.
Graham’s remarks were echoed by TUC’s general secretary Paul Nowak, who called the new legislation an attack on “the right to strike, on working people and one of our long-standing British liberties.”
On the other hand, business owners such as the Apprentice 2022 finalist Kathryn Burn rallied behind the government’s decision.
Burn – who owns online stores Pyjamily and My Christmas Pyjamas – told City A.M. she was supportive of the move.
“I think rules needs to be put in place, as unions often take it too far, not taking in to account how detrimental strikes can be,” she said. “I think this will help mitigate the effects.”