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Strikes bill amendments voted down by MPs

On Monday (22 May) MPs voted down all but one of the amendments made by the House of Lords to the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill.

The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill will require public services to deliver a minimum level of service during industrial action, with unions being sued if they fail to comply. 

More about the anti-strikes bill:

Over 100 politicians worldwide oppose new UK Strikes Bill

Government's 'anti-strike' bill discriminates against women

TUC and government clash over right to strike

Proposed amendments included ensuring a worker would not be dismissed for not complying with a work notice, and introducing the requirement for a consultation to be carried out and reviewed before the government could set minimum service levels. 

Both of these amendments will not be included in the bill. 

MPs also voted against ensuring there were no legal consequences for unions that induce workers who have been identified on a work notice to go on strike. 

Each of these amendments were voted against by 50-60 votes.  

MPs agreed to one amendment which would mean when deciding whether to identify a person in a work notice, an employer cannot consider whether they have or have not taken part in trade union activities or had a trade union raise issues on their behalf.  

The bill has been widely criticized by campaign groups, including the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and was the subject of an open letter of protest from international politicians. 

Julia Kermode, founder of IWORK a support body for independent workers, said the bill is a threat to workers rights. 

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “The anti-strikes bill has all the makings of a disaster. International politicians have already condemned it, yet the government isn't listening. 

“This draconian legislation is simply going to pour fuel on the fire. It’s an abhorrent rule that won’t just erode workers’ rights but will threaten human rights.” 

Ruth Cornish, founder of HR consultancy Amelore,  described the bill as a “go nuclear option for employee relations” at a time when vacancies are high and industrial action is widespread. 

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “This bill in essence gives employers additional powers to lessen the impact of the strike.  

“Employers need to decide how they will use this new power, recognising that going on strike is a democratic right and highly emotive for individuals.” 

Kermode said the solution to industrial action lies in better pay and working conditions rather than restrictive legislation. 

She said: “Going on strike isn’t a decision anyone takes lightly, especially as they usually lose pay for doing so. But these people feel they have nowhere left to turn. 

 “Instead of facing up to the issue head-on, the government is hell-bent on introducing rules that could easily leave the country in worse shape.” 

Cornish said employers need to tread carefully regarding the new legislation to avoid exacerbating employer-employee tension. 

She said:HR teams should continue to remain neutral, apolitical and supportive of all their employees. In unions or not. Striking or not.  

“If decisions are taken to issue work notices, clear communication is key. Industrial relations can become strained during strike action but it is important to keep talking and agree on the way ahead together.   

“Employee wellbeing remains as important a focus as ever.”