Thank you to all those who contacted me about the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill. I am committed to repealing this legislation.
I oppose the Bill because it threatens teachers and nurses with the sack during a staffing crisis, attacks the fundamental freedoms of working people, and does nothing to resolve the underlying problems affecting our services.
Working people are facing the largest fall in living standards in a generation. It is in this context that we have seen the largest strike disruption in decades. I believe it is deeply worrying that, rather than seek practical solutions to these issues, the Government is instead pushing through a law giving Ministers powers to order compulsory “work notices” to be issued to striking workers, who could then be sacked for going on strike.
I believe this Bill is wrong in principle. The right to strike is a fundamental one in our society, yet the Bill will effectively withdraw that right from hundreds of thousands of workers.
I also believe the Bill is unnecessary. While the Government argues that it is seeking to ensure public safety, the Bill does not mention safety once. Last autumn, the Government itself argued that minimum service levels were not needed for the emergency services due to existing regulations and voluntary arrangements. We all want minimum standards in essential services, but it is Government Ministers who are failing to provide them.
Finally, I believe the Bill is unworkable. Indeed, the Government’s own impact assessment on minimum service levels for transport warned that the plans could lead to more strikes and staff shortages.
For these reasons, I have opposed the Bill throughout its passage through Parliament, including voting against it as a whole and supporting amendments that would have taken the sting out of its worst elements. I will continue to oppose it and will support efforts to repeal it as soon as the opportunity arises.