Joint Committee on Human Rights begins legislative scrutiny of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill 

Committee questions Michael Ford KC, Prof Keith Ewing, Prof Tonia Novitz, Kate Bell and Tim Sharp of the TUC

10 Feb 2023| News

The Joint Committee on Human Rights began its legislative scrutiny of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill on Wednesday 8 February when it heard evidence from representatives of the Trades Union Congress; barrister, Michael Ford KC; and legal academics Keith Ewing and Tonia Novitz.

Watch the Committee on Parliament TV

The Bill would give the Government new powers to impose minimum service levels on a range of services, including transport, education and the NHS. Employers would then be empowered to require employees to work during strikes to meet those levels. The Bill would remove existing statutory protections from legal claims if a union was found to have failed to take reasonable steps to ensure its members complied with the minimum service levels. Workers would no longer be protected from unfair dismissal if they do not work when required to do so to meet the minimum service levels.

The Joint Committee will examine how domestic law currently protects those who go on strike and the likely impact the Strikes Bill will have. In particular it will examine if the legislation would be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights which provides for a “right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests”. The Joint Committee will look at the mechanisms for setting minimum service levels and whether the Bill provides a “fair balance to be struck between the competing interests of the individual and of the community as a whole”. It will also look at how unions currently protect the interest of their members and how this could be affected by the proposed changes to the law.

Witnesses

Wednesday 8 February in Committee Room 16, Palace of Westminster

At 3.00pm

Panel One  

  • Professor Tonia Novitz, Professor of Labour Law at University of Bristol
  • Professor Keith Ewing, Professor of Public Law at King’s College London
  • Michael Ford KC, Barrister at Old Square Chambers

Panel Two 

  • Kate Bell, Assistant General Secretary, Trades Union Congress
  • Tim Sharp, Senior Employment Rights Officer, Trades Union Congress