Fact Service May 2023

Issue 19

One in five could lose right to strike

One in five workers could lose the right to strike if the proposed Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill is passed unamended, the TUC has said.

The proposed bill had its third and final reading in the House of Lords on Wednesday, where two amendments were made and two failed. The bill also suffered a previous blow in the Lords when all the opposition amendments laid were voted through, including one to stop frontline workers getting sacked for exercising their right to strike.

It now passes back to the House of Commons.

The union body says that its research shows that 5.5 million workers in England, Scotland and Wales could be affected by the legislation (workers in Northern Ireland won’t be subject to it).

“This is a spiteful bill,” TUC general secretary Paul Nowak commented. [It] would mean that when workers democratically vote to strike, they could be forced to work and sacked if they don’t comply.

“It’s undemocratic, it’s unworkable and it’s very likely illegal.

“Ministers are ramming it through – shortcutting normal parliamentary procedures and ducking scrutiny,” he concluded.

The TUC reached its figure of one in five affected by using the October to December 2022 figures from the Quarterly Labour Survey for employees in England, Wales and Scotland. It includes total figures of those working in health service activities, fire service activities, education, transport, nuclear decommissioning and border security (the sectors named in the bill).