Workers at Welsh ports and airports could lose the right to strike

Published date
Hundreds of workers in Wales, working in ports and airports could effectively lose their right to strike, thanks to harsh new regulations introduced by the UK government.

Under the new Strikes Act, Conservative ministers have introduced minimum service levels for border force staff across Great Britain.

In Wales TUC’s view, the introduction of minimum levels of service in the border force will:

  • place severe and unacceptable restrictions on the fundamental right of a worker to take industrial action to defend their pay and conditions
  • be draconian: it could lead to individual workers being sacked for taking part in industrial action that was supported in a democratic process. Trade unions could face large damages.
  • be counter-productive: the UK government’s own analysis has warned that it could lead to more strikes and more action short of strike.

The UK government has also introduced minimum service levels for passenger rail workers across Britain and ambulance workers in England. These give employers the power to issue work notices, to force workers to come into work, even though they have voted to strike.

The regulations for Border Force staff are particularly harsh as they require staff to maintain a normal service on a strike day. The strict rules on the border force amount to a profoundly serious restriction on the right to strike.

In addition, the Strikes Act covers other sectors including the health and education sectors. The UK government is currently consulting on rules for hospital services and schools. Wales TUC is of the strong opinion that these rules should not apply to Wales, not only because they are an attack on workers’ rights, but also because these services are the responsibility of the Welsh government and their management is not a matter for Whitehall.

The Welsh government, the Welsh Local Government Association and the NHS Wales Employers have all said that they will do everything they can to avoid issuing work notices. Wales TUC has welcomed these statements. They demonstrate a commitment to the Welsh Way of working in social partnership.