TUC Takes Action: UK Government Reported to ILO Over Strikes Act

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has recently reported the UK government to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), asserting that the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 – which proposes to implement minimum service levels in “relevant services” that are largely key public services – infringes upon international law. This move marks the second instance of such reporting by the TUC to the ILO, reflecting a deepening dispute over the Act’s compatibility with international labour standards and unions’ commitment to challenging laws they view as inimical to their principles of upholding labour rights.

In June 2023, the ILO extended an invitation to the UK government to “seek technical assistance” to align the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023, commonly known as the Strikes Act, with international labour standards. This development materialised following the TUC’s initial reporting of the government to the ILO, which stemmed from concerns surrounding the lifting of the ban on hiring agency workers during strikes (which has since been overturned after a successful judicial review application by unions).

Fast forward to September, the TUC has once again taken a stance by reporting the government to the ILO, describing the Act as “unworkable, undemocratic, and almost certainly in breach of international law”.

The TUC’s actions further intensified during its annual Congress earlier this when delegates unanimously passed a motion to actively seek to oppose the Strikes Act with further discussion to be had via a special congress.

The dispute underscores the complex intersection of labour rights, government legislation, and international labour standards. As the situation continues to evolve, it raises important questions regarding the alignment of national labour laws with international conventions and the mechanisms available for addressing perceived discrepancies.

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