Keir Starmer vows to repeal anti-strike laws as he savages Tory 'war on nurses'

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Keir Starmer vows to repeal anti-strike laws as he savages Tory
Keir Starmer vows to repeal anti-strike laws as he savages Tory 'war on nurses'

Keir Starmer has vowed to repeal Tory plans to impose anti-strike laws if Labour get into government.

The Labour leader blasted Rishi Sunak ’s plans to impose “minimum service levels” on striking sectors in legislation which is expected to allow employers to sue unions and sack staff.

In a passionate address blasting the Tory crackdown on strikes after his New Year speech, Mr Starmer said: “Frankly, the Government is all over the show on this every day… and I think there's a reason for that and that's because I don't think this legislation is going to work.

“I'm pretty sure they've had an assessment that tells them that it's likely to make a bad situation worse. Obviously, we'll look at what they bring forward, but if it's further restrictions, then we’ll repeal it.

"The reason for that is I do not think that legislation is the way that you bring an end to industrial disputes. You have to get in the room and compromise. You can't legislate your way out of 13 years of failure.”

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He added firmly: “Will we repeal it? Yes, we will.”

Keir Starmer vows to repeal anti-strike laws as he savages Tory 'war on nurses'Rishi Sunak wants to introduce laws that would impose minimum service levels on striking sectors (Getty Images)

The Government is trying to push through the Transport Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill which would ensure at least a skeleton service during walkouts.

Details emerged last night that employers will be able to sue unions and sack staff under the plans.

The legislation, which initially only related to transport, is to enforce “minimum service levels” in six sectors, including the health service, rail, education, fire and border security and could be announced as soon as today, according to the Times.

Keir Starmer vows to repeal anti-strike laws as he savages Tory 'war on nurses'Keir Starmer making his New Year speech (AFP via Getty Images)

The UK has been crippled by thousands of workers walking out this winter across the NHS, Border Force, railways and postal services.

Mr Starmer said the Government has “got no strategy whatsoever for dealing with these strikes, particularly the nurses strikes”.

He said: “Would it go in the room in a few weeks time and reach an agreement that they could have reached before the strike started… or will they just slug it out month after month after month in a war with our nurses?”

He added: "I would get in the room. I would talk to them - and there's going to have to be compromise."

used his first speech of 2023 to confirm that details on anti-strike legislation will be released in the "coming days" yesterday.

The Prime Minister said: “People should have the right to strike but that has to be balanced with the right of the British public to be able to go about their lives without suffering completely undue disruption in the way that we've seen recently.

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“And that's why I said we will introduce new legislation that restores that balance and crucially protects people's lives as well as their livelihoods.

"But you'll hear more from the Government in the coming days on that.”

On the same day union leader Mick Lynch compared the looming anti-strike laws with "what goes on in China and probably Russia and other repressive regimes".

The rail union chief likened the Tory crackdown with countries where “trade unions aren’t free”.

Mr Lynch said the legislation essentially seeks to “ban strikes”, explaining that if he wanted to run a signalling system from Scotland to Cornwall he’d have to get all the signallers to work even if only 50% of the trains were running.

“Basically, you're talking about the conscription of labour, even during a lawful dispute, and I would have to name my members that went to work to break our own picket lines and that's unacceptable in a free society,” he told an LBC radio phone-in.

“We're always being told that repressive regimes do things against the public, and of course, the mark of what went on in Poland and what goes on in China and probably Russia and other repressive regimes is that the trade unions aren't free.”

The RMT boss added: “The right to strike is a fundamental human right. If you've not able to do that, the employer and the Government can dictate to you what you do as a previously free individual. That's not acceptable.

“So I think all democrats, people of goodwill, should be opposed to the trade unions being corralled in this way because the Government is losing the argument on pay and working practices.”

He said unions have vowed to join up together to fight the proposals.

A GMB union spokesman said: "This is a desperate act by the Government, who are trying anything to divert attention from the chaos they have created from 13 years of failure in our public services.

“NHS staff and ambulance workers are on the frontline of this crisis every day, looking after people across the country - and should have the right to stand up for themselves and the health service we all depend on."

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Sophie Huskisson

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