Unions criticise Government’s ‘attack on right to strike’

The government’s controversial legal move to provide a minimum level of service during strikes is being heavily criticized by unions at the TUC congress, which begins on Sunday.

Officials say the new law is unnecessary and unworkable and will do nothing to resolve disputes.

The government passed the law after a year of unprecedented industrial action by hundreds of thousands of workers, including nurses, teachers, civil servants and railway staff.

Unions will call for a legal challenge to the legislation during debates at the Liverpool conference.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT), which has long been embroiled in a dispute over wages, jobs and working conditions, will call on unions to use “any means necessary” to defeat the law.

The firefighters union will push for a campaign of mass violations and even industrial action.

The government has announced a consultation on the implementation of the new law, saying the aim is to ensure a minimum level of services during strikes in sectors such as the railways and the NHS.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “No matter how hard the government tries to manipulate the issue, the Conservatives are brazenly attacking the right to strike.”

“This is a sham consultation. Ministers have ignored a lot of evidence that these laws are unworkable and are escalating disputes.

“They continue despite their anti-union campaign being rejected by the UN labor rights watchdog and their recent defeat in the Supreme Court over the use of temporary workers in strikes.

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“This government appears bent on violating fundamental rights guaranteed by international law.

“That’s why we will fight this legislation consistently and explore all options, including legal avenues.”

Other topics discussed this week include labor rights and the cost of living crisis.

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of shopworkers union Usdaw, said: “Our weak workers’ rights framework is at the heart of the cost of living crisis.

“One-sided flexibility that benefits employers at the expense of employees means it is too easy and too cheap for managers to change shifts or reduce working hours at short notice.

“Furthermore, short- and zero-hour contracts rob employees of financial security. Workers need more security, more predictable workflows and more hours, and this must be delivered as part of a comprehensive new deal for workers.”

A government spokesman said: “The purpose of this legislation is to protect the lives and livelihoods of the population and ensure they continue to have access to vital public services during strikes.”

“The legislation does not exclude the possibility of strikes, but people expect the government to act in circumstances where their rights and freedoms are disproportionately affected, and that is exactly what we are doing with this bill.”

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing russellfalcon@ustimespost.com.

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