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Industrial action: Legislation proposed to ensure minimum levels of service during transport strikes

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By Ceri Fuller and Hilary Larter


Published 13 December 2022


The Government has proposed a bill which is intended to provide a framework to ensure that minimum service levels will be provided during transport strike action.

The Facts

In line with the Conservative Party’s 2019 Manifesto commitment to ensure that a minimum level of service would operate during transport strikes, the Government has introduced the Transport Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill in the House of Commons.  If enacted, this bill would establish a framework to enable the Government to implement minimum levels of service to be provided by “specified transport services” during strike action.  However, it does not set those service levels.

If the bill is passed, the specific transport services to which this would apply will be set out in legislation, following consultation.  The minimum levels of service would be agreed between unions and employers, or, where agreement cannot be reached, determined by the Central Arbitration Committee. 

Under the new legislation, unions would also lose their immunity from liability for industrial action if they fail to take reasonable steps to ensure that workers specified in the employer’s “work notice” do not take part in the strike. Specified workers who take strike action will lose their protection from automatic unfair dismissal. 

What does this mean for employers?

This is a controversial bill, potentially amounting to a significant restriction on trade unions.  Since the bill was announced (when Liz Truss was prime minister), the Government has indicated its intention to extend the minimum services levels obligation to health and “other areas of critical infrastructure”. 

Keir Starmer has indicated that Labour would oppose minimum service legislation, describing it as “unworkable”.