Govt plans more curbs on strikes by requiring minimum service from teachers, doctors and firefighters

5 October 2022, 06:27 | Updated: 5 October 2022, 06:38

The PM is looking into more curbs on strikes
The PM is looking into more curbs on strikes. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Liz Truss is considering putting more curbs on the right to strike for teachers, NHS workers and firefighters after months of walkouts.

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As more rail strikes, from the Aslef union, take place on Wednesday, Ms Truss is weighing up a radical expansion of laws that require a minimum service during rail workers' industrial action and apply that to the public sector.

The Department for Transport is already deciding on whether to press on with plans to require 20% of regular train services stay in action during strikes.

Meanwhile, a barristers’ strike has hit the courts and the National Education Union is thinking about action taking place before Christmas, while the Royal College of Nursing is balloting over a strike.

Business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg will write up which public services should have rules in place that limit the extent of their action.

Schools, the NHS and firefighters are being looked at first. Post Office and waste collection workers are less likely to feature, The Times said.

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Unions said staff could leave en-masse if Ms Truss was to plough on with the plan.

A senior Government source said: "We support the right to strike but ultimately we have to stop unions holding the country to ransom and that applies to other public services as well as transport.

"Labour would have to decide whose side they are on and I hope in the end they would back us."

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Schools could be required to keep classes open for children of key workers or be told to teach for a certain amount of time every day.

Agreements which ensure emergency services continue when doctors and nurses go on strike could become enshrined in law.

A TUC spokesperson said: "The right to strike is a fundamental British liberty. The government should be focused on getting wages rising, not looking for new ways to tighten the screw on working people.

"We are already on the verge of a mass staff exodus because pay and conditions are so poor after a decade of austerity. Our services should be handled with greater care, and ministers should be giving staff a reason to stay.

"MPs applauded these workers during the pandemic and promised them a better future. We need to see them follow through on that promise now."