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Right to strike in Britain is to be restricted by act of parliament

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Nurses on the picket line outside Great Ormond Street hospital, London, 20 December 2022. Photograph: Vuk Valcic/Zuma Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

The right to go on strike, to withdraw one's labor over grievances with one's employer is potentially under threat in proposed legislation that gives the British government sweeping powers to clamp down on industrial action.

Following months of public sector walkouts, the British government has introduced legislation that makes it difficult for unions to hold further strikes. 

They say it is democratic when it's not democratic.

So they are an affront to democracy no matter what they want on this bill.

 They want to turn worker against worker but it won’t, they'll just cause confusion.


Formerly known as the Minimum Service Level Bill, voted on in Parliament on Monday 22 May, the legislation enables the government to determine what a minimum level of service should be, with potential consequences for strikers. And the unions that represent them.

The unions would face sequestration of their funds, which is obviously a very serious step.

And unions can't afford to go down that road so it will, effectively, stop strike action in those parts of the economy.

But it will also seek to scare people in other parts of the economy about what will happen to them should they take the decision to go on strike.

Philippa Childs, BECTU, Head

The freedom to form and join a union and to bargain collectively is one of the four international labor standards; standards which the UK has signed up to.

The UK is part of the ILO and it has signed up to all of its convention.

So the right to strike is really a fundamental human right.

It's something that we should protect and be very aware of any legislation that seeks to restrict that.

I think, internationally, people will be concerned that here in the UK we're seeking to restrict that right.

Philippa Childs, BECTU, Head

The sectors impacted by the legislation include health, education, transport and fire services, all of which have staged several rounds of industrial action over pay and working conditions over the past year in the face of the untenable UK cost of living crisis.

Strikes became common during the Industrial Revolution and the UK has recognized the right to strike since at least 1906.

The protesters and union leaders in Britain say they're not going to allow that right to be eroded or taken away.


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