Grant Shapps hits unions dead with law to end strikes

Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps unveiled the new legislation, which focuses on minimum rosters (Image: Mark Thomas/Shutterstock)

Unions have been hit with a “body and soul” law to keep essential services running – while the government promises to end strikes “forever”.

New legislation unveiled by Business Secretary Grant Shapps means ambulance, fire and rail staff could be laid off unless some remain at work under minimum rosters.

A day before another ambulance strike, he said he had an obligation to protect lives and livelihoods and stop work stoppages that were crippling the public sector.

“Common sense tells us that we need a minimum level of security,” he told MPs. “The ambulance strike tomorrow still has no minimum safety level – and it cannot go on like this. We are focused on blue light emergency services and delivering on our manifesto commitment to ensure minimum service on the railways.’

Labor has dubbed the law a “redundancy law for nurses” and unions have denounced it as an “assault on Britain’s Covid heroes”.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “Conservative ministers have gone from gossiping on key staff to firing key staff.”

Angela Rayner

Labor Deputy Leader Angela Raynor said 82 per cent of striking paramedics are leaving pickets in emergencies (Image: Getty)

Ambulance unions insisted local agreements guaranteed patient safety and the London Ambulance Service said more than half of its staff will go to work today.

Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said 82 per cent of striking paramedics are leaving pickets in emergencies.

Mr Shapps did not disclose a minimum level, but licensed teachers, medics, border officials and nuclear workers may also be included. And he said he was ready for any legal challenge.


Ambulances are said to be on strike today even though half the service’s staff are said to be working (Image: Reuters)

“Every other European country has some kind of minimum security,” he told Times Radio. “We do the same. Life and limb must come first.”

Paramedics in England are on strike today and January 23rd. Teachers are voting this week and nurses are voting again on January 18th and 19th. Rail unions – who have been on strike since June – held talks with public sector unions at the TUC yesterday to coordinate action.

“Everyone knows that we want to end these strikes, which in some cases – for example on railways – have seemingly turned into some kind of forever strike,” Mr Shapps said.

“The government bends over backwards for this.”

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Justin Scacco

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