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Government forces through their anti-union law – Usdaw thanks Peers for taking a stand and welcomes Labour’s commitment to repeal

Date: 20 July 2023 Retail trade union Usdaw has condemned the Government for failing to listen and forcing through their Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill. The House of Lords today backed down after their latest bid to secure changes to this controversial measure had been rejected by Conservative MPs three times. Peers had been calling for further scrutiny and consultation on the Bill, which was repeatedly refused by the Government.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “The Government has shown a grim determination to engage in ideological attacks on trade union members, to the point that they are prepared to break the law to break a strike. They lost last week in the High Court on misusing agency workers to break strikes and last month received embarrassing criticism from the International Labour Organization. It appears that Ministers refuse to learn from their past errors as they force through more anti-union law.
“This legislation is fundamentally flawed and should have been rejected. It is undemocratic, unworkable and a direct attack on working people’s ability to defend their pay, along with other terms and conditions. We must protect the right to strike. So, we welcome Labour’s commitment, repeated today, that they will repeal this Act when in government. Only Labour will deliver the change our members need, we need a general election now.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 350,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades www.usdaw.org.uk
Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill allows Government Ministers, by regulation, to impose minimum service levels during strikes in sectors including schools, the NHS, fire, rail and transport. A work notice issued by the employer would name those individuals required to work and the duties to be undertaken. Those workers deemed to have breached a work notice would lose the legal protection usually given to strikers and could be sacked.
A combination of Labour, Lib Dem, crossbench peers and bishops voted in support of amendments that tempered the worst bits of this terrible legislation. The House Commons only accepted a Government amendment, so that an employer must not have regard in respect of trade union membership and activities when deciding whether to identify a person in a work notice. All amendments from the Lords were rejected three times by Conservative MPs.
Last week the Government lost in the High Court on their ‘strike-breaking’ agency worker regulations, which were declared unlawful. Last month the International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations (UN) agency, said the UK needed to “ensure that existing and prospective legislation is in conformity” with international rules on freedom of association and added that the Government must seek technical assistance from the agency’s experts.
The Government disregarded all advice and has secured Royal Assent for the Bill https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3396
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers