Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Unions start legal action against UK Government over law change they say violates European Convention on Human Rights

© Andrew CawleyMembers of ASLEF train driver's union forming a picket line at the entrance to Edinburgh Waverley station, as train strikes took place the country.
Members of ASLEF train driver's union forming a picket line at the entrance to Edinburgh Waverley station, as train strikes took place the country.

Unions are starting legal action against the Government over its new law allowing employers to hire agency workers to replace striking staff.

The TUC and Unison are taking separate cases following widespread anger over the change in the law, which was announced earlier in the summer following industrial action on the railways.

The TUC is taking action on behalf of 11 unions representing train drivers, prison officers, railway staff, civil servants, journalists, shop workers and others, representing millions of workers, arguing that the regulations are unlawful because the then secretary of state for business, Kwasi Kwarteng, failed to consult unions as required by the Employment Agencies Act 1973.

The TUC also says the regulations violate fundamental trade union rights protected by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The TUC warns the new law will worsen industrial disputes, undermine the fundamental right to strike and could endanger public safety if agency staff are required to fill safety critical roles but have not been fully trained.

Recruitment firms have also criticised the regulations.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The right to strike is a fundamental British liberty but the Government is attacking it in broad daylight.

“Threatening this right tilts the balance of power too far towards employers. It means workers can’t stand up for decent services and safety at work or defend their jobs and pay.

“Ministers failed to consult with unions, as the law requires, and restricting the freedom to strike is a breach of international law. That’s why unions are coming together to challenge this change in the courts.

“Workers need stronger legal protections and more power in the workplace to defend their living standards – not less.”

Richard Arthur of Thompsons Solicitors, which is co-ordinating the TUC case, said: “The right to strike is respected and protected by international law including the Conventions of the ILO (International Labour Organisation), an agency of the United Nations, and the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The Conservative Government should face up to its legal obligations under both domestic and international law, instead of forever trying to undermine the internationally recognised right to strike.”

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The Government is hellbent on stripping ordinary working people of their historic rights and seems prepared to do anything to achieve that.

“Employees striking for better wages during a cost-of-living crisis is not the problem. Ministers should be rolling up their sleeves and helping solves disputes, not risking everyone’s safety by allowing the use of inexperienced agency workers.

“Changing the law in such a hostile and unpleasant way makes it much harder for workers to stand up to dodgy employers and risks limiting the impact of any legal strike. Until ministers get a grip on the cost-of-living crisis, desperate staff and their unions will continue to strike for fair pay.”