Call on Sheffield Council to defend the right to strike and oppose new trade union law
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A motion has been put forward to the full council meeting taking place today (December 6). It has been proposed by Coun Sophie Wilson, an independent councillor for Park and Arbourthorne.
The motion opposes the minimum service levels that employers will be able to set when workers go on strike. Employers will be able to issue a work notice so that some workers will have to provide minimum coverage of services during strike action.
Coun Wilson’s motion says that the right to strike is “a fundamental British freedom which is protected by international law”, including the European Convention on Human Rights.
It adds: “The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 sets out that when employees in relevant sectors democratically vote to strike they can be required to work and sacked if they don’t comply”.
Her motion calls this “a direct attack on the right to strike fundamental freedom”, adding: “Consecutive Conservative governments have been carrying out brutal attacks on trade unions for decades, culminating with this most recent attack on the right to strike.
“This government, instead of tackling the causes of the cost-of-living crisis, are attempting to cut through the recent wave of strikes by trying to shift the blame from profiteering bosses who have manufactured unsustainable levels of inflation, on to ordinary workers who are exercising their right to fight for dignity and fair pay at work and in their lives.”
She labels the law “draconian, unnecessary and unworkable” and “a direct attack on the freedoms of the ordinary, hardworking residents of our city”.
The motion calls for the council’s strategy and resources policy committee to consider how the council could continue to protect the rights of its workers to strike and how that should be reflected in policies, such as the ethical procurement policy.
It urges the council to raise its concerns with all relevant bodies, including the fire and rescue authority and health boards.
It also says the council should work with local unions and Sheffield Trades Council to oppose the legislation and to write to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to demand he pledges an incoming Labour government to reverse fines and other measures taken against any union under the terms of the Act.
The Department for Business and Trade said minimum service legislation is compatible with all the country’s international obligations and there “needs to be a reasonable balance between the right of workers to strike and the rights of the public, who work hard and expect essential services that they pay for to be there when needed”.