Dec 15 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is planning to introduce anti-strike laws to protect lives and livelihoods, the Daily Mail reported on Thursday.
In an interview to the newspaper, Sunak said he hopes that union leaders can see that it is not right to cause disruptions to many people, particularly at Christmas time.
“But I’m prepared to introduce new legislation next year to protect people’s lives and minimise the disruption on their livelihoods. And that’s something we are working on at pace,” Sunak told Daily Mail.
UK unions get go-ahead to challenge rules allowing agency staff to cover for strikers
Meanwhile, a group of British trade unions has been given the go-ahead by London’s High Court to bring a legal challenge against the government over regulations allowing companies to hire agency staff to fill in for striking workers, the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) said on Wednesday.
Eleven trade unions across a range of industries and representing millions of workers say the rules could worsen industrial disputes and undermine the right to strike.
The British government this year changed rules to make it easier for businesses to use temporary staff to minimise the impact of strike action as workers across the rail network and other industries walked out in disputes over pay.
The TUC, which is coordinating the legal action, said a full hearing will be held next year, alongside separate legal cases by two other unions which have also been given permission to challenge the regulations.
The unions argue that then-business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng failed to consult unions about the rules, which they also say violate trade union rights.
“Ministers are shamelessly falling over themselves to find new ways to make it harder for working people to bargain for better pay and conditions,” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said in a statement.
“These attacks on the right to strike are likely illegal. Ministers failed to consult with unions, as the law requires. And restricting the freedom to strike is a breach of international law.”
A government spokesperson said: “We recognise the impact strikes have on the economy and the public and are clear that they should always be a last resort. It would not be appropriate to comment further on an ongoing legal matter.”