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As the UK government continues to push through its anti-strike legislation, Nautilus joined other trade unions in London's Parliament Square in opposition to this blatant attack on workers' rights. Robert Murtagh reports
The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill aims to curtail the rights of workers to engage in legitimate and democratic strike action.
Although maritime professionals aren't specifically referenced in the Bill, Nautilus is deeply concerned about the sweeping powers the Bill gives to the Secretary of State to restrict the right to strike of maritime professionals at a future date.
The UK government has faced significant criticism for the Bill from inside and outside Parliament. The Joint Committee on Human Rights, a cross party committee made up of Lords and MPs, said the Bill was 'not justified and needed to be re-considered'.
A recent statement by the International Labour Organization – an agency of the UN – stated that the UK needed to ensure 'prospective legislation is in conformity' with international rules on freedom of association.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) described this statement as 'hugely embarrassing' for the government.
While the Bill is likely to pass, the House of Lords has introduced significant amendments removing some of the most pernicious provisions. These amendments were subsequently rejected by MPs on its return to the Commons.
However, as the Bill went back to the Lords for a second time, in a rare move Peers refused to back down, instigating a period known as 'legislative ping-pong' where the Bill looks set to go back and forth between the Commons and the Lords until one side backs down.
Nautilus, working with the TUC, will continue to monitor developments, opposing this legislation and supporting amendments that ensure a greater degree of parliamentary scrutiny, prevent striking workers from facing the sack for engaging in strike action and stopping the duty on unions to force their members to comply with this pernicious legislation.
Labour, the Liberal Democrats, SNP and SDLP have consistently voted against the legislation in the Commons, with the DUP in abstention.