30 January 2023
The UK government's proposed Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill is being rushed through parliament. It will allow the government to force employees in certain public roles to go to work through the imposition of "work notices" when faced with strike action. A letter to the Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Grant Schapps, calls for a halt to the "plans for an unwarranted curtailment of freedom of assembly and association." Coordinated by Liberty, it has been signed by 50 organisations, including Statewatch.
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Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
Department of Business, Energy
and Industrial Strategy,
1 Victoria Street,
27 January 2023
Dear Secretary of State,
Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill
We are writing to you as organisations concerned with the protection of civil liberties in this country to urge you to reconsider the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill.
The right to strike is a fundamental liberty.
In Great Britain it is already highly constrained by detailed rules concerning balloting, notice periods and picketing.
We believe the proposals for minimum service levels during industrial action will unfairly constrain the activities of trade unions and their members by allowing a further significant and unjustified intrusion by the state into the freedom of association and assembly.
The government has produced no evidence that such draconian measures are necessary. Voluntary life-and-limb cover has long been a feature of industrial action by essential workers.
This Bill has the potential to cause significant damage to fair and effective industrial relations in this country by making it harder to resolve disputes.
Indeed the government itself has acknowledged that minimum service levels risk leading to an increased frequency of strikes.
We are also concerned by the lack of detail in the Bill, and the enormous scope it gives you and your successors as Secretary of State to decide key provisions, including the minimum service levels themselves, free from proper Parliamentary scrutiny.
In particular, the vast power given to Ministers to amend or revoke primary legislation, including Acts that do not even exist yet, is an extraordinary denial of the duty of our elected representatives to legislate on our behalf.
The Bill will expand the power of Ministers over Parliament and employers over workers, undermine rights protections, and inject uncertainty and precarity into the lives of millions of people who may now face dismissal for going on strike.
We urge you to reconsider these plans for an unwarranted curtailment of freedom of assembly and association.
Martha Spurrier, Director, Liberty
Justine Forster, CEO, Advocacy Focus
Robert Rae, Co-Director, Art27 Scotland
Clive Parry, England Director, Association for Real Change
Dame Sara Llewellin, Chief Executive, Barrow Cadbury Trust
Silkie Carlo, Director, Big Brother Watch
Rosalind Stevens, Project Manager, Civil Society Alliance
Brian Gormally, Director, Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)
Isobel Ingham-Barrow, CEO, Community Policy Forum
Megan Thomas, Policy and Research Officer, Disability Wales
Ele Hicks, Engagement, Research, and Policy and Influencing Manager, Diverse Cymru
Andrea Simon, Director, End Violence Against Women Coalition
Clare Moody, Co-CEO, Equally Ours
Kyle Taylor, Founder, Fair Vote UK
Peter Wieltschnig, Policy & Networks Officer, Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX)
Clare Lyons, Director of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns, Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
Nick Dearden, Director, Global Justice Now
John Gaskell, Chair, Grassroots for Europe
Areeba Hamid & Will McCallum, Co-Executive Directors, Greenpeace UK
Declan Owens, Co-Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Kevin Hanratty, Director, Human Rights Consortium Northern Ireland
Mhairi Snowden, Director, Human Rights Consortium Scotland
Yasmine Ahmed, UK Director, Human Rights Watch
Deborah Coles, Executive Director, INQUEST
Zehrah Hasan, Advocacy Director, The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)
Jess McQuail, Director, Just Fair
Nimrod Ben-Cnaan, Head of Policy and Profile, Law Centres Network
Barry Gale, Group Leader, Mental Health Rights Scotland
Fizza Qureshi, CEO, Migrants' Rights Network
Zara Mohammed, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain
Kevin Blowe, Campaigns Coordinator, Netpol
Mark Kieran, CEO, Open Britain
Kate Flannery, Secretary, Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign
Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, Chief Executive, Oxfam GB
Becky Peters, Director (Interim), People's History Museum, Manchester
Police Spies Out Of Lives
Lubia Begum-Rob, Director, Prisoners' Advice Service
Ariane Adam, Legal Director, Public Law Project
Mia Hasenson-Gross, Executive Director, René Cassin, the Jewish Voice for Human Rights
Agnes Tolmie, Chair, The Scottish Women's Convention
Sue Tibballs, Chief Executive, Sheila McKechnie Foundation
Susan Cueva, Chair, Southeast and East Asian Centre (SEEAC)
Chris Jones, Director, Statewatch
Louise Hazan, Co-Founder, Tipping Point UK
Chris Brian, Researcher, Undercover Research Group
Katrina Ffrench, Director, UNJUST C.I.C
Tom Brake, Director, Unlock Democracy
Bob Miller, Secretary, Wearside Amnesty International
Joyce Kallevik, Director, Wish
Raewyn Jones, Interim CEO, Work Rights Centre
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