WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
February 01 2023
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO

Civil society groups lambast ‘draconian’ strike action bill

Civil society groups lambast ‘draconian’ strike action bill

A government bill aimed at undermining strike action has met with wide criticism for infringing upon the rights of employees and workers. The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill gives the government the power to impose undefined ‘minimum service levels’ for health, fire and rescue, education, transport, nuclear, and border security services. It further strips legal protections from unions which have organised strike action and allows employees undertaking strike action to be fired.

Although the right to strike is protected under Article 11 of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees freedom of assembly and association, this right can be subject to any restrictions ‘necessary in a democratic society’. The proposed new bill has met with fierce response from union leaders, who have described it as “undemocratic, cynical & authoritarian”, “another dangerous gimmick”, and an attempt to “scapegoat” public sector workers. The Trades Union Congress additionally announced a national ‘Right to Strike’ day on 1 February. RMT’s general secretary, Mike Lynch, stated that the ‘draconian legislation’ was ‘an attack on human rights and civil liberties which… could make effective strike action illegal.’

These criticisms are echoed by Human Rights campaign groups. Liberty stated that ‘today’s proposals completely undermine the purpose of striking… These new restrictions should be seen in the context of the Policing Act and Public Order Bill, both of which dramatically curtail the right to protest. Time and time again, this government has demonstrated its determination to undermine our rights. We must fight back.’