After much a do, the Strike (Minimum Service Levels) Bill (with a wider sector application than the original Bill from 2022, which was limited to transport) has become law.
The Bill amends parts of TULRCA 1992 to allow employers in certain sectors to take legal action to stop strikes if a 'minimum service level' is not reached.
At the moment there is no indication as to when the provisions will come into effect and other aspects remain rather grey:
- The government still needs to respond to a consultation that took place in early 2023 before it can pass secondary legislation to address proposed 'minimum service levels' in certain sectors;
- It has also promised a statutory code of practice to clarify union obligations, as well as a consultation (this summer?) on the reasonable steps a union must take to comply with a work notice issued by an employer under the Bill.
The government has been criticised for legislating first and then determining policy and procedures, absent proper consultation, while unions have threatened legal action having condemned the Bill.
Both unions and employers are concerned that the Bill could impact adversely on industrial relations, leading to further tensions and an increase in strikes. Perhaps this is one fight where unions and a majority of employers are on the same side?