UK Government moves ahead with legislation to ‘keep Britain moving’ during strikes

The UK Government is pressing ahead with legal moves to introduce minimum service levels during strikes by transport workers.

The announcement follows months of industrial action by railway workers in bitter disputes over pay, jobs and conditions which has caused travel chaos across the country. Unions criticised the move, with many believing it would be unworkable.

Legislation will be introduced following Prime Minister Liz Truss's commitment to bring in such a Bill within her first 30 days of Parliament sitting.

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The Government pointed out that similar legislation already exists in Western Europe, including France and Spain.

Picket lines at Glasgow Central Station (Pic: John Devlin)
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The aim is to ensure transport services including rail, tubes and buses cannot be completely shut down when workers go on strike.

The Government said it expects that minimum service levels will come into force in 2023.

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A Government source said: "The Government stood on a manifesto commitment to introduce minimum service levels. As we have seen only too often in recent months, it is wrong that strikes are preventing hard-working people and families up and down the country from getting to work, doctors' appointments and school.

"That is why we are introducing this legislation, to keep Britain moving, ensure people can get to work, earn their own living and grow the economy."

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TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "These proposals will undermine the right to strike and this is an attempt to stop transport workers taking action for better pay and conditions.

"The Transport Secretary should stop blocking negotiations so rail employers and unions can reach an agreement in the current dispute.

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"But instead Truss and her ministers want to make it harder for workers to win better pay and conditions. It's a cynical distraction from their own failings.

"The changes are unfair, unworkable and incompatible with our international commitments. Trade unions will oppose them every step of the way.”