Minimum service level strike laws extended to ambulance, rail and border workers

Minimum service levels have been extended to ambulance workers (James Manning/PA)
Minimum service levels have been extended to ambulance workers (James Manning/PA) Minimum service levels have been extended to ambulance workers (James Manning/PA)

Laws designed to provide a minimum level of cover during strikes have been extended to ambulance staff, rail workers and Border Force employees.

Ministers had launched a consultation on minimum service levels for ambulance staff and passenger rail workers after the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act became law.

That legislation, passed earlier this year, faced fierce criticism from trade unions as unworkable and a threat to the right to strike.

It came as the Tories grappled with a wave of strike action by rail workers, teachers, health workers and others fuelled by anger at the failure of pay to keep pace with soaring inflation.

Disputes – some of which have since been resolved – also centred on deteriorating working conditions, and the strikes caused major disruption across England and Wales.

The Government said minimum service levels would ensure that public services continue in the face of walkouts, calling the measures “effective and proportionate”.

The legislation to bring the move into effect it to be laid in Parliament on Tuesday, with ministers hopeful it can be completed before Christmas.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “We are doing everything in our power to stop unions derailing Christmas for millions of people. This legislation will ensure more people will be able to travel to see their friends and family and get the emergency care they need.

“We cannot go on relying on short-term fixes – including calling on our armed forces or civil servants – to mitigate the disruption caused by strike action.

“That’s why we’re taking the right long-term decision to bring in minimum service levels, in line with other countries, to keep people safe and continue delivering the vital public services that hard-working people rely on.”

The regulations will apply to employees of Border Force and some Passport Office staff in England, Wales and Scotland.

Under the rules for train operators, the Government said regulations will mean the equivalent of 40% of normal timetables operating as normal.

Minimum service levels for ambulance workers will apply in England only. The legislation has been designed to ensure that emergency services “will continue throughout any strike action”.