First day of national rail strike, in London
RMT union members picket outside Victoria Station, on the first day of national rail strike, in London on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters/JOHN SIBLEY

UK sets out planned change to law to minimize impact of strikes


The British government set out planned changes to law on Thursday that would make it easier for businesses to use temporary staff to minimize the impact of strike action.

Britain's rail network was brought close to a standstill on Tuesday as 40,000 workers walked out in a dispute over pay and trade unions have warned the country faces a summer of disruption as workers struggling with the mounting cost of living threaten industrial action.

Rail workers are set to walk out again on Thursday after talks aimed at resolving the dispute broke down without an agreement on Wednesday. A third day of action is planned for Saturday.

The government said it would remove restrictions on supplying skilled temporary agency workers to cover essential roles for the duration of a strike.

"Once again trade unions are holding the country to ransom by grinding crucial public services and businesses to a halt. The situation we are in is not sustainable," Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said.

"Repealing these 1970s-era restrictions will give businesses freedom to access fully skilled staff at speed, all while allowing people to get on with their lives uninterrupted to help keep the economy ticking."

Businesses will need to ensure they hire temporary workers with the necessary skills and qualifications for the roles they are covering, the government said.

The change in law, which is subject to parliamentary approval, would apply across all sectors across England, Scotland and Wales and would come into force in the coming weeks, the government said.

It also said it would also raise the maximum damages that courts can award against a union when strike action is found to be unlawful. For the biggest unions, the maximum damages would rise to 1 million pounds ($1.23 million) from 250,000 pounds.

© Thomson Reuters 2022.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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"eye for an eye" aye? so, will it change the subject they are fighting for in a good way? nay mate. it will worsten. and believe me, there will be collateral. UK seems to be good for a popcorn marathon

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Human rights is so, last century.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The government as strikebreaker for the rich. That should work out well and, if the Brits have had enough of their 'leaders' as they should have had by now, a 'general' strike across the country with serious picket line blockages may ensue and bring the barely breathing UK economy into a state akin to sepsis. Couldn't happen to a more deserving aristocracy... Imagine U.N. 'peacekeepers' in London and Glasgow...and if one has paid any attention to British history, the thought will bring a smile and a chuckle of "Yep!, The People are finally breaking out the cans of RAID® FOR RULERS"...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

We all know where this is coming from and where it is going.

We are going to see more strikes, more unrest, riots like SriLanka, and the western governments will crack down like their latest prodigy has on his political opposition.

Instead of taking action on the economy that helps the people, the governments raised interest rates so mortgages and rents so get higher, as inflation hits nearly 8% in Canada and the UK passes 9% inflation, they are instead off to Rwanda to try and strong arm certain members to join the "fight against Russia".

By that they mean stop buying cheap Russia oil go info hyper inflation, fuel shortages, food shortages and civil unrest like we are seeing here.

Ah isnt life great when the Europeans have another of their vendetta wars and want to drag us into it.

Not sure the former colonies in Asia and Africa care to join this time, seems they learnt from the last 2 wars for some stupid reason Canada, Australia and NZ haven't learned a thing.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Don't worry, the rich elite own the media who will tell the poor that poor people striking for more money is wrong, greedy and unpatriotic..... the majority will fall for this and re-elect their masters...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Wow. State-sanctioned strikebreaking, food banks everywhere, 9% inflation and a lying fraud of a leader who spends more time posing in Kiev than he does dealing with the Tory-created horrorshow that is the UK right now. What's next in this this Dickensian nightmare, debtor's prisons and rickets?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What's next in this this Dickensian nightmare, debtor's prisons and rickets?

Well if Europe sticks to it's tried and true nature.

WW3, if the rest of the world let's them.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

This government must reach out to the nation and striking employees, and yes workers in other sectors that are in the process of considering withdrawing there labour.

Legislation, in the belief that replacing strikers with short term agency staff, will just compound and could provoke exasperate and antagonise, creating a confrontation that could have profound implications to the economy.

The UK Government has an unprecedented £2.2 trillion debt liability, over £7 billion monthly servicing requirement. Trust in the political establishment let alone government is melting away like ice cream.

To counter rising inflation, interest rates have risen in conjunction with a continued squeeze on public finances..

More strikes across a number of sectors will wreck incalculable damage to families standards of living.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

quote: that would make it easier for businesses to use temporary staff to minimize the impact of strike action

What planet are Johnson and his clown troupe living on?

Brexit has led to a shortage of workers in almost all sectors. There are not enough regular employees. Any trained staff not in employment could walk into a job if they wished. There simply aren't spare agency workers. The UK has lost the one resource it always relied upon to maintain, support and optimise its economy - migrant labour.

A summer of discontent will bring down the Tories, but this is not restricted to the UK. Covid lockdowns and repatriations were global as are migrant labour blocks. Trade has been politicised and weaponised, which is a very bad idea. Europe cannot afford its energy sanctions. They have handed the joystick to Putin, who can now throttle back on supplies and cut them whenever he wishes - probably winter.

Break a globalised system of trade and supply, of goods and labour, for ideological reasons, with no viable 'Plan B', and you can expect global, economic carnage. This is not temporary, and it has been inflicted on citizens by their own governments, acting in concert.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Unionise, Collective bargin, Strike, This is the only form of defending our right to a liveable wage and work Place that will bring results for the capitalist hold outs.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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