In a recent press release, the UK Government announced an “anti-strike” bill. In light of all the strike action that the UK witnessed in 2022, the bill claims to ensure that public services will continue to maintain “basic function” despite the strikes. This is essential to ensure there is some amount of service, instead of a shutdown.
Details of the Press Release
According to the press release, multiple trade unions are being invited to talk about this so they can share evidence of their pay, issues and working conditions. The idea of these talks is to find a common ground between the Government and the unions. Thereafter, the aim is to come to an agreement that will work in everyone’s favour. As it stands, the Government claims that the union’s demands are only making the fight against inflation more challenging.
Keeping this in mind, the press release further says that the Government owes it to the public to ensure their safety and access to public services. The strikes have led to hindrances in the lives of the people and Government needs to make sure that doesn’t happen. Hence, this new proposed bill will ensure fire, medical and rail services have basic coverage so the people are not at risk. As far as other sectors go, it will be a matter of voluntary agreements. The Government only plans on consulting on those matters If there is no agreement.
Blockage to Economic Growth
Business Secretary Grant Shapps added, in the press release, that the value public services add is recognised and the Government is keen to reform their pay and working conditions. However, they have a duty to protect the livelihoods of the people.
Last year’s industrial action has had an impact on the UK economy, especially the train strikes as it has stopped people from getting to work. This is what the new bill is trying to prevent by not eliminating strikes completely but allowing minimum services to run so other people can continue with their lives.
The Response to the Bill
There are laws like this around the world, especially across Europe. However, it has not been taken as well as the UK Government might have hoped. RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, in an official press release said “this is an attack on human rights and civil liberties…”. The press release then goes on to talk about the democratic right of having unions. However, they feel, this bill may lead to people getting sacked for exercising their right to not work for poor pay and working conditions.
On similar lines, Wales Trade Union Congress’ general secretary Shavanah Taj has declared that “this is an attack on the right to strike and an attack on working people”. Their official press release says that the trade unions will be fighting this and the TUC invite workers to support their campaign to defend their rights.
Additionally, European Trade Union Confederations general secretary Esther Lynch has more to add. In their official press release, Esther Lynch explains how the pay in many EU countries is decided through collective bargaining and negotiations are involved. She further advises that Instead of restricting trade unions and taking away their right to strike, it will be more helpful to negotiate with them as soon as possible.