London, May 24 - The right to go on strike, to withdraw one's labor over grievances with one's employer is potentially under threat in proposed legislation that gives the British government sweeping powers to clamp down on industrial action. Following months of public sector walkouts, the British government has introduced legislation that makes it difficult for unions to hold further strikes.
Formerly known as the Minimum Service Level Bill, voted on in Parliament on Monday 22 May, the legislation enables the government to determine what a minimum level of service should be, with potential consequences for strikers. And the unions that represent them. The unions would face sequestration of their funds, which is obviously a very serious step.
According to observers, unions can't afford to go down that road so it will, effectively, stop strike action in those parts of the economy. But they say it will also seek to scare people in other parts of the economy about what will happen to them should they take the decision to go on strike.
The freedom to form and join a union and to bargain collectively is one of the four international labor standards; standards which the UK has signed up to. The UK is part of the ILO and it has signed up to all of its convention. So the right to strike is really a fundamental human right. (Text: RHC)