Chris Elmore, MP for Ogmore, (16 January 2023) voted against the UK Tory Government’s “Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill”, which would empower ministers to sack nurses, firefighters, teachers and paramedics who take industrial action.
The Bill does this by making amendments to the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act of 1992. The minimum service levels themselves will be set by secondary legislation after the Act has passed, that will be subjective to affirmative votes in both Houses of Parliament. But this process sees less scrutiny than a Bill passing through Parliament.
The UK Tory Government claims that it will only impose regulations on the rail, health and fire and rescue services, and will only step in with regulations for the wider sectors if voluntary agreements aren’t reached. However, the Bill gives the Secretary of State the power to intervene in all sectors listed – and it’s unclear if the intention is to widen its scope further.
The Bill requires that consultation takes place, but this can take place prior to or after the Act is passed, and the Secretary of State can consult whoever they “consider appropriate”.
The proposed legislation represents an almighty attack on working people’s right to strike for better pay and conditions and could effectively stop certain workers in certain sectors from being able to strike.
The past few months have seen the greatest strike disruption in decades, with rail workers, ambulance workers and nurses taking unprecedented industrial action. This comes off the back of the deepest cost of living crisis in a generation, which has seen bills skyrocket and wages unable to keep up, as well as severe staff shortages in health, rail and more sectors.
Chris Elmore, MP for Ogmore, said:
“The UK Tory Government’s scorched-earth approach to industrial relations has only made things worse. At each stage they’ve frustrated negotiations with trade unions. Ministers need to stop playing politics with yet more sticking plasters. To resolve these strikes, we need negotiation not legislation.
Ministers argue that Minimum Service Levels will bring us in line with European nations. But all evidence shows that Minimum Service Levels don’t stop strikes. Countries like Spain and France lose far more days to strikes than the UK. This is a made-up excuse for a Bill to sack nurses.
The Prime Minister says this is about public safety – but their Strikes Bill doesn’t mention safety once. This is nothing but a distraction from a Tory Government out of ideas, time and fast running out of sticking plasters. Only a UK Labour Government will secure an end to strikes, treat our public sector workers with respect and bring about an end to this cost of living crisis.”