Scottish government hits out over strikes bill
Deputy First Minister John Swinney has set out the Scottish government’s opposition to the UK government’s Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill.
In a letter to UK Enterprise, Markets and Small Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake MP, Mr Swinney says the bill will further undermine and weaken the rights of workers and directly impact on devolved areas.
He adds that the proposals will “pour fuel on the fire” at a time when the UK government’s relationship with trades unions is already at a low ebb.
The bill would allow the UK government to set minimum service requirements during strikes in certain sectors including health, fire and rescue, education, transport, nuclear decommissioning and border security.
Mr Swinney writes: “The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill is the latest in the series of steps that the UK government has taken to erode workers’ rights and weaken industrial relations. The UK already has some of the most stringent anti trade union laws in Western Europe, yet this Bill stands to further undermine and weaken the rights of workers. It is our long-standing position that a progressive approach to industrial relations along with greater – not fewer – protections for workers is at the heart of a fairer, more successful society.
“The Scottish government strongly opposes any bill that undermines legitimate trade union activity and does not respect the Scottish government’s Fair Work principles. At a time when the UK government’s relationship with workers and trade unions is at such a low ebb, this bill pours fuel on the fire, risking more strikes and other disruption, as concluded in the impact assessment of the previous Transport Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill. As governments, we should be working with the public sector and Trade Unions to reach fair and reasonable settlements respecting the legitimate interest of workers. The Scottish government believes that we should respect workers across our economy and seek to negotiate fair resolutions to disputes, particularly at a time of soaring inflation.”