In an online announcement, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) says they will be holding a ‘national right to strike day’ on 1st February 2023. According to the announcement, which was released on 10th January 2023, this decision was taken after a meeting between the trade union leaders on the day. The meeting was about the new anti-strike bill that was announced earlier in the month and TUC confirmed that many events will be taking place in different parts of the country against it.
The new anti-strike bill essentially ensures that minimum service will be offered despite the strikes. The UK government believes that they owe it to the public to ensure their safety and access to services. Hence, instead of a shutdown, services like fire, medical and rail will have to offer minimum service.
This has not been taken well by various trade unions, which has now led to the announcement by TUC. General Secretary Paul Nowak says that the right to strike is a fundamental British liberty which is being attacked. He then calls these new legislations “draconian” which can tilt the power in favour of “bad bosses”.
He further added, “nobody should lose their job if they take lawful action to win a better deal”. However, if the anti-strike bill comes into force it may allow employers to use a “work notice” which will force people into working on strike days. If they do not comply, those employees may lose their jobs as well as their right to protection under unfair dismissal.
Additionally, the TUC states that being forced to work on strike days may also be a breach of international law. Hence, the TUC promises to fight this bill as well as any anti-strike plans at every step of the way. Paul Nowak also urges the public to show their support towards the workers and their right to better pay and working conditions.
Finally, following the way of the private sector, Paul Nowak mentions how companies in the private sector have negotiated with unions. He says this is the example the government should be following, instead of making plans that will only create more disputes and drive workers away.
In support of workers’ right to strike, former minister and MP Stephen McPartland has labelled this bill as shameful. He voted against the bill and believed there is no good in targeting workers and sacking them if they don’t comply. Instead, he thinks the unions paying a fine if they do not provide minimum service is far better.