Anti-strike laws to enforce 'minimum service' levels

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       is on a collision course with Labour and the unions today after his anti-strike laws were finally unveiled.<br>Ministers announced that the long-awaited legislation will include ‘minimum service’ levels in key sectors – such as rail, fire and ambulance.<br>Employers could be able to sue unions if they prevent basic functions being maintained during walkouts. <br>The government said that measures recognise that ‘disruption to blue light services puts lives at immediate risk’.<br>The proposals stop short of imposing the same rules on the rest of the NHS, education, nuclear decommissioning and border security.<br>But there is a stark warning that could change if union chiefs do not agree ‘voluntary positions’ on what provision there will be during industrial action.<br>Business Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘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.<br>’As well as protecting the freedom to strike, the Government must also protect life and livelihoods. <br>’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.'<br> <br> Rishi Sunak confirmed that the anti-strike laws were imminent in a speech yesterday. Business Secretary Grant Shapps said the government must ‘protect life and livelihoods’ as well as the right to strike<br> Train drivers have walked out today, bringing the rail network to a standstill yet again<br> Aslef chief Mick Whelan condemned the proposed laws in interviews this morning<br> RELATED ARTICLES

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      The measures should be introduced in Parliament by the end of the month, although they are unlikely to be in place for the current wave of industrial action.<br>The government faces a battle in the House of Lords, with Labour branding the move an ‘attack on the right to strike’ and unions threatening to ask the courts to step in. <br>Mr Shapps pointed out there had been a commitment to strike legislation in the Tory manifesto, suggesting that should stop peers blocking the plans. <br>The Government has also invited unions to meet for ‘honest, constructive conversations’ about 2023-24 pay settlements.<br>But that has prompted more fury as the current disputes relate to the deals for 2022-23.<br>A statement said: ‘Ministers are reaching out to unions to invite them to sit down and discuss the evidence that the Government will be submitting to the pay review bodies – and hopes that unions will also share their evidence.<br>’If the offer is accepted, discussions will take place between government departments and unions in the coming weeks on issues including pay evidence, workload and conditions in the public sector.<br>’These discussions will help ensure the evidence submitted to the pay review bodies is as considered and informed as possible, slot gacor including reflecting areas of common ground.<br>’The Government is clear that the well-established independent pay review process is the right way to set public sector pay – it provides independent, expert advice and is a neutral process in which all parties play a role.<br>’These new discussions would feed into this process and are offered as the Government recognises the particular economic challenges the country faces this year.'<br>Train drivers have walked out today, bringing the rail network to a standstill yet again.<br>In his first major speech as PM yesterday, Mr Sunak said ‘people should have the right to strike’.<br>But he added: ‘That has to be balanced with the right of the British public to go about their lives without suffering completely undue disruption in the way we’ve seen recently.<br>’And that’s why I have said we will introduce new legislation that restores that balance and  as well as their livelihoods.'<br>Earlier, Keir Starmer said Labour was expecting to repeal any anti-strike legislation brought in by Mr Sunak.<br>Asked about the issue after delivering a keynote speech, Sir Keir said: ‘Frankly, the Government is all over the show on this.

      Every day there is a different briefing as to whether there is going to be legislation, what it is going to be and when it is going to come.<br>’I think there is a reason for that and that is because I don’t think this legislation is going to work.
      I am pretty sure they have had an assessment that tells them that it is likely to make a bad situation worse.<br>’Obviously we will look at what they bring forward, but if it is further restrictions then we would repeal it and the reason for that is I do not think that legislation is the way that you bring an end to industrial disputes.'<br>Union barons have vowed to ‘fight’ the Government over anti-strike laws and any new legislation could take months to come into force fully.<br>Gary Smith, GMB general secretary, said: ‘A Government that has presided over 13 years of failure in our public services is now seeking to scapegoat the NHS staff and ambulance workers who do so much to care for the people of our country.<br>’The NHS can only function with the goodwill of its incredible staff and attacking their fundamental right to take action will alienate them even further and do nothing to help patients and the public.<br>’We are always ready to discuss our members’ pay but the Government is refusing to talk about problems as they exist now, instead they want to kick the can down the road.<br>’There are huge questions over the NHS Pay Review Body, as ministers’ actions have consistently undermined its independence.

      The process needs real reform and our members need a much stronger commitment than we heard today.'<br> The announcement said unions would be bound to follow the legislation and would risk employers bringing an injunction to prevent strikes from taking place or seeking damages if they did not comply.<br>RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘Curtailing workers’ freedom to participate in lawful industrial action is always undemocratic and we will look closely at what the Government releases.<br>’We will meet with ministers to see their evidence for the pay process.

      However, only negotiations on our dispute can avert the planned action this month and I urge the Prime Minister to show a renewed sense of urgency, grasp the nettle and negotiate with nurses without further delay.<br>’As for minimum staffing, last month’s action was safe for patients because of detailed discussions we chose to initiate with the NHS to protect emergency services and life-saving care.

      The public respected that and even ministers acknowledged our constructive approach.<br>’Safe staffing levels that are set in law are what we want to see year-round not just in these extreme circumstances.<br>’We’ve long campaigned for governments to be accountable for safe and effective staffing levels in NHS and social care to prevent one nurse being left with 15, 20 or even 25 sick patients.<br>’The evidence is unequivocal – safe staffing saves lives and having the right number of registered nurses on duty has a direct impact on the safety and quality of patient care.

      Today’s highly unsafe situation is what is driving our members to say ‘enough is enough’.'<br>Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect said: ‘This hollow invitation ignores the fact that a majority of public sector workers are not covered by a pay review body, including nearly all civil servants.
      We have been calling for years for this to be rectified, something which the Government has consistently ignored.<br>’These workers have been some of the most harshly treated over the past decade of real-terms pay cuts, and now the Government is signalling its intent to leave them out once again.<br>’Our members have already indicated their willingness to take industrial action and there is nothing in this announcement that will persuade us not to proceed to a formal ballot as planned.'<br> In his first major speech since taking the job, Mr Sunak said ‘people should have the right to strike’ but ministers are pushing forward proposals to guarantee a minimum service<br>Mr Sunak also appeared to hint that nurses could be offered more in pay to resolve .<br>The union has demanded pay increases of 19 per cent, but were given about 4 per cent for this year (2022-23).<br>The PM said: ‘As I’ve said on pay, those conversations need to be based on what’s affordable.<br>’I think a 19 per cent pay rise is not affordable – I don’t think anyone thinks a 19 per cent pay rise is affordable.<br>’But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have dialogue, shouldn’t have conversations.'<br>A pay review process which also decides pay increases for 2023-24 could also be brought forward to smooth tensions.<br>Addressing the process for deciding pay increases for next year, he said: ‘We’ll be setting out more of plans in this regard in the coming days.'<br>


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