Operators of trains will now be required by law to ensure that at least 40% of their regular schedule will still operate on days affected by strikes. This legislation is set to be presented to parliament on Tuesday.
The government stated that the minimum service level regulations would guarantee the continued operation of “certain priority routes,” but it was not specified which specific journeys would be included.
Border Force will also be subject to the same regulations, requiring them to maintain adequate staffing levels to ensure their effectiveness remains consistent.
During a strike, ambulance workers in England will be required to follow minimum service regulations, ensuring that they prioritize responding to life-threatening situations or when there are no other medical options. Even without strikes, ambulances may not be able to attend every call.
The Conservative party has struggled with a surge of strikes from railway employees, educators, healthcare workers, and others who are frustrated with the insufficient pay increases that fail to match the rising cost of living.
Conflicts, some of which have been resolved, have also focused on declining working conditions, and the strikes have resulted in significant disturbances throughout England and Wales.
The government announced that minimum service levels would guarantee the continuation of public services during strikes. They referred to these measures as “effective and proportionate.”
This year, the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act was introduced, which was heavily criticized by trade unions as impractical and a violation of the right to strike.
The new rules proposed by Rishi Sunak aim to stop unions from disrupting Christmas plans for millions of individuals. The government is optimistic that the laws will be passed before the holiday season.
The new law will enable a greater number of individuals to visit loved ones and receive necessary medical attention while traveling,” he stated. “We cannot continue to depend on temporary solutions, such as calling upon our military or government workers, to alleviate the consequences of strikes.”
According to the law, employers must provide work notices to identify individuals who are necessary to work during strikes. Unions are required to take reasonable measures to ensure their members follow this, or else they will not be legally protected from damage claims.
Paul Nowak, the TUC’s general secretary, stated: “The government is responsible for the crisis in our public services. Instead of working together with unions, they are actively trying to limit the right to strike and punishing paramedics and rail workers for advocating for fair wages and improved services.”
These recently passed regulations are impractical, anti-democratic, and likely to violate international law. The United Kingdom already has some of the strictest trade union laws in Europe, but the Conservative party is pushing for even more obstacles to securing fair wages and working conditions.
The rail unions expressed their belief that the proposed measure was impractical. Maryam Eslamdoust, the general secretary of TSSA, stated that they have made it known to the government that this legislation is unnecessary and will not be effective. She also argued that it goes against democratic principles and undermines the fundamental right to strike, which is an integral part of British democracy.
Repeatedly, government officials target rail employees by proposing reductions in the sector and anticipate unions to back down, instead of advocating for their members. This approach will only escalate labor disputes.
The laws were denounced by unions representing ambulance workers as “useless” and not expected to enhance emergency response times on days of strikes. It was seen as an effort to blame staff for the poor condition of the National Health Service.
Sara Gorton, head of health at Unison, stated that firing ambulance workers who are on strike will not move the millions of people waiting for hospital treatment any higher on the priority list. She believes it is simply a desperate effort to divert focus from the government’s inadequate performance in regards to the NHS.