The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union is to launch a judicial review against the government’s new anti-strike laws to stop strike action in the Border Force. It’s general secretary announced the news at a rally marking 40 years since a ban on strikes at GCHQ.
Tories’ anti-strike laws: enough is enough
On Saturday 27 January, unions marked the 40th anniversary of the GCHQ trade union ban with a rally in Cheltenham:
At this, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka announced the union would use the Human Rights Act to challenge the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023.
The new law allows employers to order staff to come into work during strike action. PCS will argue this contravenes the right to strike enshrined in Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Opponents of the law say enforcing minimum service levels would prolong disputes and cause more frequent strikes.
An “unprecedented attack”
Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Paul Nowak was at the GCHQ rally:
The TUC and the whole union movement will stand with PCS every step of the way with this legal challenge.
These new minimum service level regulations represent an unprecedented attack on our fundamental right to strike.
Mark my words. This case is just the beginning. We will use every lever at our disposal to fight these cynical laws.
These past few weeks have shown that these laws are unworkable. Any half-decent employer will steer well clear of minimum service levels.
And it’s little wonder why. Ministers have designed these laws to escalate disputes – not resolve them. They’re undemocratic and likely illegal – and they’ve dragged us further away from European democratic norms.
If any employer dares to use minimum service levels, they will face the full force of the union movement.
Unions won’t stop until these spiteful laws are off the statute book for good.
PCS: laws breaching “fundamental human right”
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary said:
Forty years on from Margaret Thatcher banning unions at GCHQ, a Conservative government is once again attacking trade unions.
So it’s fitting today, as we mark the courage and determination of those workers who refused to hand in their trade union membership, that I can tell you we will be fighting this new injustice in the courts.
It is a fundamental human right of any worker to withdraw their labour to protect their terms and one we shall defend on behalf of our members in the Border Force.
The union is being represented by Thompsons Solicitors, for whom partner Neil Todd said:
Minimum service levels are very difficult to justify in a legal regime which is already so restrictive when it comes to trade union rights.
The Border Security Minimum Service Regulations provide an unlimited freedom to undermine the right to strike, which we contend is unlawful as it exceeds powers under the Strikes Act. The government have been given 14 days to respond to our letter.
Featured image via the TUC