THE TRADES UNION CONGRESS (TUC) has called on MPs of all parties to reject the government’s “latest attack on the right to strike” as the minimum service levels bill came to parliament for its first reading on Tuesday.

The bill – dubbed the “sack key workers bill” – would mean that when workers democratically and lawfully vote to strike in health, education, fire, transport, border security and nuclear decommissioning, they can be forced to work and sacked if they do not comply.

The TUC says this legislation shows that the government is determined to attack workers’ fundamental right to strike. The union body says that the proposed legislation would make it harder for disputes to be resolved – pointing to the government’s own impact assessment, which suggests minimum service levels prolong disputes and lead to more frequent strikes.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak, said: “The right to strike is a fundamental British freedom – but this government seems determined to attack it. This legislation would mean that when workers democratically vote to strike, they can be forced to work and sacked if they don’t comply. That’s undemocratic, unworkable, and almost certainly illegal.

“Conservative ministers have gone from clapping key workers to sacking key workers. They seem more interested in scheming up new draconian restrictions on the right to strike than addressing the real concerns of public sector workers.

“Let’s be clear. If passed, this bill will prolong disputes and poison industrial relations – leading to more frequent strikes. That’s why MPs must do the right thing and reject this cynical ‘sack key workers bill’. It’s time for the government to show they are on the side of nurses, firefighters and all our key workers who got this country through the pandemic – not actively working against them.”

* A copy of the Bill and the UK Government’s impact assessment are available here.

* Source: Trades Union Congress