William Eichler 10 May 2017

Wales introduces amendment to protect public sector right to strike

The Welsh government will introduce a Bill amendment designed to ensure agency workers cannot be recruited to cover the work of public sector employees during industrial action.

As part of the Trade Union Act 2016, Whitehall consulted on revoking the current legal position where employers are unable to use temporary workers to provide cover when staff go on strike.

The Welsh Government will amend its Trade Union Bill, at stage 2 of the Bill’s passage through the National Assembly, to ensure current arrangements, which prevent agency workers being brought in to break a strike, remain in place.

Cardiff carried out its own consultation on whether the current position should be maintained in devolved public services and 79% of respondents supported the status quo.

Speaking ahead of yesterday’s stage 1 debate on the Trade Union Bill, the local government secretary Mark Drakeford said: ‘We have long said that the UK Government’s position is counterproductive - leading to prolonged, protracted disputes, greater confrontation and more disruption to some of the most vulnerable users of our vital public services.

‘Although the UK Government has yet to enact legislation on agency workers, we have taken the necessary steps to ensure that, if they choose to do so, devolved public services would remain unaffected and that the current legal position would remain the same. We are acting to retain the status quo.

‘Our Bill and the amendment we are introducing both have the very clear backing of the Assembly’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee, with strong support for the proud tradition of constructive social partnership we have here in Wales. We are not prepared for this partnership to be jeopardised.’

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