The United Nation’s workers’ rights watchdog has said it has not backed legislation that would require a minimum service level during UK strikes as ministers have suggested.
Responding to a question at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, the International Labour Organisation director-general Gilbert F Houngbo said he was not aware of any discussions with the UK about the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill.
He added that the ILO has been in discussions with trade unions about making a complaint about the proposed legislation, which recently received its second reading in parliament.
Houngbo said he was “not aware of any bilateral discussion on this matter”.
Last week, business secretary Grant Shapps told MPs that the ILO said that “minimum service levels are a proportionate way of balancing the right to strike with the need to protect the wider public”.
Houngbo said he was worried that workers in the UK and beyond would have to accept a situation that is ‘below par’ in order to keep their jobs.
US labour secretary Marty Walsh said he was not aware of the legislation, but said he would not support “anything that would take away from workers”.
The ILO has been contacted for further comment on its position.
TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “Ministers have rightly been called out for spinning mistruths. It’s time the government came clean about the draconian nature of this bill.
“This new legislation is a fundamental attack on the right to strike – and is almost certainly in breach of international law. It’s little surprise that the ILO and the Biden administration have warned against these spiteful plans.”
Earlier this week the Regulatory Policy Committee said it had not yet seen an impact assessment for the bill, despite it being laid before parliament. The RPC said government departments are required to publish an impact assessment for its consideration before bills are introduced to the House of Commons.
Nowak said: “It’s shameful that MPs are being asked to vote blind on a bill that will have far-reaching consequences for millions of workers. The government is deliberately railroading through this spiteful legislation to avoid proper parliamentary scrutiny.”