The government will help reduce disruptions from strike actions by removing restrictions on employers that supply non-regular workers to strikers. If the court finds that the strike is unlawful, the business can claim damages against the union.
The government announced today (Thursday 23rd June) changes to the law allowing businesses to supply skilled agency staff to fill the manpower shortage during industrial action.
Under current trade union law, employers are prohibited from supplying temporary agency workers to perform the duties of strikers. This could have disproportionate impacts, including on important public services, and could cause serious disruption to the UK economy and society, from keeping people from going to work to problems with how businesses manage their workforce.
Today’s legislation, which repeals these burdensome legal restrictions, will give businesses impacted by a strike the freedom to use the services of employers that can provide skilled, temporary agency staff to take on a temporarily essential role during a strike. will be
Removal of these regulations gives employers more flexibility, but requires businesses to adhere to broader health and safety rules that keep both employees and the public safe. favor.
It will also help mitigate the impact of future strikes, such as those seen on railroads this week, by enabling trained temporary workers to play an important role in keeping trains running. For example, skilled temporary workers can fill vacancies such as train dispatchers performing critical tasks such as signaling safety to train drivers and keeping train doors unobstructed.
During this week’s strike, that role had to be played by a train manager who could have been better used for a safer and more important role, such as a security guard. The measure will not only allow that, but will limit the impact of future strikes on hardworking commuters and the economy.
Amendments to the law, which will apply to all sectors, are designed to minimize the negative and unfair impact of strikes on the UK public by allowing businesses and services to continue to operate. For example, in public services like education, strikes can often mean that parents are forced to stay home with their children instead of going to work.
Subject to parliamentary approval, these changes will be made through a legal document and will be implemented over the next few weeks and will be rolled out across England, Scotland and Wales.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:
Once again, the unions are holding the country for ransom by shutting down important public services and businesses. Our situation is not sustainable.
Lifting these 1970s-era restrictions will keep the game running by allowing businesses to give their fully-skilled employees the freedom to quickly access, while allowing people to lead their lives without interruption.
Transport Minister Grant Shops said:
Despite the best efforts of militant union leaders to halt our country, it is clear that this week’s strike has not had the desired impact as more people are able to work from home. But unions’ refusal to modernize have unduly affected too many hard-working families and businesses.
Reforms like this bill are critical and will ensure that future strikes minimize disruptions and allow adaptive, flexible and fully skilled employees to continue working.
The government also announced today that it is increasing the maximum damages the court can impose on a union if a strike is found to be illegal in court. Damage caps that have not changed since 1982 are increased. For the largest unions, the cap increases from 250,000 to 1 million.
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