Government introduces anti-strike legislation to 'ensure basic level of service' during walkouts

5 January 2023, 15:29 | Updated: 5 January 2023, 15:36

Grant Shapps said that the Government would introduce the bill "quickly"
Grant Shapps said that the Government would introduce the bill "quickly". Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The government is introducing anti-strike legislation to "ensure a basic level of service" during walkouts.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

A bill is set to be introduced in Parliament in the coming weeks, with minimum safety levels being set for fire, ambulance and rail services.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps said that the government would introduce the bill "quickly", adding that he saw no reason why the legislation would need to be obstructed.

For the other sectors covered in the bill - including health services, education and border security - voluntary agreements are expected to be reached.

Minimum safety levels will only be introduced for them should voluntary positions not be agreed, the government said.

Mr Shapps suggested that he hoped the government would never need to enforce minimum safety levels during industrial action for some sectors.

Asked whether the plan was "political theatre" that will arrive too late to deal with the current wave of strike action, he said: "I'd rather we never have to go down this route.

"In the most recent strikes, for example, with ambulances, you had the Royal College of Nursing, who in the nurses strike did agree at a national level what the minimum safety level would be but with the ambulances that was left to a postcode lottery effectively, and I think it's that that's unacceptable.

"So what I'm hoping is that across the economy, because this would apply in lots of different areas of the economy, I'm hoping actually that unions and the employers can get together and do sensible things in order to guarantee of minimum safety or service level in each different area."

Read more: More commuter misery in fresh rail strikes as Mick Lynch compares Government to repressive China on LBC

Read more: Amazon workers in UK set to strike for first time ever in dispute over pay

Grant Shapps suggested that he hoped the Government would never need to enforce minimum safety levels
Grant Shapps suggested that he hoped the Government would never need to enforce minimum safety levels. Picture: Alamy

Mr Shapps previously said in a statement: "We hugely value the work of our public services and we’re reaching out to unions to have an honest conversation on pay, conditions and reform.

"Industrial action is disruptive for everyone – from people relying on essential services to get to work or care for their family to hard-working business owners whose sales suffer. It also costs those striking at a time when family budgets are tight.

"As well as protecting the freedom to strike, the government must also protect life and livelihoods.

"While we hope that voluntary agreements can continue to be made in most cases, introducing minimum safety levels – the minimum levels of service we expect to be provided – will restore the balance between those seeking to strike and protecting the public from disproportionate disruption."

GMB said the move was "desperate".
GMB said the move was "desperate". Picture: Alamy

The government has invited trade unions to have "honest, constructive conversations" over disputes over pay and working conditions in a bid to avoid ongoing industrial action.

However, unions have already hit back, with GMB saying the anti-strike legislation is a "desperate" move.

"This is a desperate act by the government, who are trying anything to divert attention from the chaos they have created from 13 years of failure in our public services," a GMB spokesperson said.

"NHS staff and ambulance workers are on the frontline of this crisis every day, looking after people across the country, and should have the right to stand up for themselves and the health service we all depend on."

Angela Rayner called the Government&squot;s planned minimum service level legislation "unworkable"
Angela Rayner called the Government's planned minimum service level legislation "unworkable". Picture: Alamy

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner called the minimum service level legislation "unworkable" and said that Labour would oppose the move.

The shadow future of work secretary said: "These proposals are unworkable and unserious from a dead-end government. It's insulting to key workers that Rishi Sunak thinks that threatening teachers and nurses with the sack will end strikes.

"At every stage the government has sought to collapse talks and throw in last minute spanners. Now the Prime Minister is wasting time on shoddy hurdles that even his own Transport Secretary admits won't work.

"Labour is united against this attack on fundamental British freedoms. We will oppose this bill and repeal these restrictions on the right to strike."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

One driver had to be rescued from the floods by helicopter

Floods in Spanish tourist hotspot cause chaos, as trapped driver hauled from car by rescue workers in helicopter

Aimee Betro (l and top) and Mohammed Nazir and Mohammed Aslam (bottom right)

Hitwoman in a hijab: First pictures of fugitive American 'assassin' following botched British murder bid

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses the media after receiving the results of the European Parliament elections

Top EU court fines Hungary 200m euros for flouting asylum law

Moment 'dine and dash' family are caught on camera demolish fried breakfasts, sides and five cokes before fleeing café without paying at Cafe No.35

Moment 'dine and dash' family demolish fried breakfasts, sides and five cokes before fleeing café without paying bill

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin (left) arrives for bilateral talks on the sidelines of a Nato defence ministers' meeting in Brussels

Nato defence ministers thrash out Ukraine security aid and training support plan

Middle terrace at ruins of Ancient Kameiros, Kalavarda, Rhodes (Rodos), The Dodecanese, South Aegean Region, Greece

Rhodes hit by 4.8-magnitude earthquake as holidaymakers describe 'the whole airport shaking'

A tourist fans a companion in front of the the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens

Heatwave forces Greek authorities to shut Acropolis in afternoon for second day

Paramilitary police officers patrol near Borgo Egnazia, venue of the G7 summit in Puglia, southern Italy

G7 summit opens with deal to use frozen Russian assets for Ukraine

'Economically Brexit's working': Nigel Farage says but claims it has 'not been properly implimented'

'Economically Brexit's working': Nigel Farage says but claims it has 'not been properly implemented'

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa meets senior officials of his African National Congress party

South African parties cobble together unity government before electing president

Nigel Farage says Germans should 'get a sense of humour' amid calls for football fans who chant 'Ten German Bombers' to be prosecuted

Nigel Farage says Germans need to 'get a sense of humour' if football fans sing Ten German Bombers chant

Farage says he’d lead a 'centre-right' party to could stand against Labour… as he blames Cameron and Osborne for turning the Tories socialist democrat party

Nigel Farage reveals he would lead a Conservative-Reform merged party

Nigel Farage in the LBC studio today and (right) on the Reform UK campaign bus in Barnsley, South Yorkshire this week

'This is how ordinary people speak': Farage defends Reform UK candidates after anti-Islam and far-right comments exposed

Reform UK candidate Steve Chilcott said ‘Islam and Nazis are the same thing’ in comments in 2017

Reform candidate rants that ‘Islam and Nazis are the same thing’ in unearthed footage

'PM’s don’t always get decisions right': David Cameron defends Rishi Sunak’s handling of D-Day commemorations

'PMs don’t always get decisions right': David Cameron defends Rishi Sunak’s handling of D-Day commemorations

Exclusive
Nigel Farage said he would not surrender to the 'mob'

'I'm not going to surrender to the mob': Farage blames ‘angry left’ and social media after milkshake attacks