UK govt introduces laws to mitigate disruption of strikes on public


London, Jan 11

The UK government has introduced new laws that would enable it to set minimum levels of service during strikes to ensure the safety of the public and their access to public services.

In a bid to mitigate the disruptions caused by strikes, the bill would ensure that crucial public services, such as rail, ambulances and fire services, maintain a minimum service during industrial action, "reducing risk to life and ensuring the public can still get to work," a government statement said on Tuesday.

"The first job of any government is to keep the public safe. Because whilst we absolutely believe in the ability to strike, we are duty-bound to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British people," Business Secretary Grant Shapps said in the statement.

The UK has been in the grip of a wave of strikes, which started in summer 2022 and continued into this year, as inflation has stayed consistently high and pay rises failed to keep up. Rail workers and nurses were among those who staged the action, Xinhua news agency reported.

The government locked horns with the trade unions. It said the pay rises that unions had called for were unaffordable and higher pay would not help fight inflation. On Monday, government ministers and unions met, but the talks once again failed to change course.

The unions criticised the new legislation on Tuesday. This bill was "another dangerous gimmick" from a government that should be negotiating to resolve the current crisis, said General Secretary Sharon Graham of Unite, one of the largest trade unions in the UK.

"Evidence from abroad clearly shows this kind of legislation only forces unions to use other tactics, inflaming and prolonging disputes," Graham added.


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