The entire trade union movement will rally behind any worker who is sacked under a controversial new law on strikes, the head of the TUC is warning.
New regulations are aimed at ensuring a minimum level of services during strikes, starting in sectors including the railways and the Border Force before being more widely introduced.
The Government brought forward the new law following 18 months of strikes by hundreds of thousands of workers including nurses, teachers, junior doctors, civil servants and train drivers.
Unions have vowed to fight the law, under which workers could face being sacked if minimum levels of service are not maintained.
TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: ”Nobody withdraws their labour lightly. It is the last resort when employers refuse to talk and refuse to compromise.
“The action taken by union members in 2023 forced bosses across the country back to the negotiating table and secured better deals.
“Unions will do everything in our power to defend that right to strike. It is a cornerstone of our democracy.
“We won’t be intimidated by this Government, and we won’t be bullied.
“The Tories’ Strikes Act is toxic, unworkable, undemocratic and likely illegal and it’s a brazen attempt to try stop working people winning better pay and conditions.
“The entire trade union movement will rally behind any worker who is sacked for exercising their right to strike.”
The Royal College of Nursing said it “totally opposed” the new law.
General secretary Pat Cullen said nursing staff could be forced to work during an otherwise legal strike or face the sack.
She told the PA news agency: “The Strikes Act is dangerous and unwise. Ministers are seeking to silence nursing staff, stopping them from speaking out over patient safety concerns, or protesting poor pay and working conditions.
“The legislation means that nursing staff could be conscripted to work, or face the sack during legal industrial action.
“Nursing staff will be appalled that ministers are seeking to curtail their freedom to speak out as we go into a general election year.”
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader and shadow deputy prime minister, said: “This Government’s failed approach has led to the worst strikes in decades causing havoc for working people this Christmas.
“Rishi Sunak’s ‘sacking nurses Bill’ is nothing but another sticking plaster to distract from the Conservatives’ 13 years of failure. We all want minimum standards of service and staffing, but it’s Tory ministers who are consistently failing to provide them.
“Only Labour can offer the change Britain needs, with industrial relations fit for a modern economy, where issues can be resolved before they escalate.”
A Government spokesperson said: “The Government believes that the ability to strike is important, but this needs to be balanced with the rights of the public to access essential public services, such as ambulances and rail, when they need them.
“We expect trade unions to comply with the law and play their part in delivering minimum service levels.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub