Consultation on Code of Practice on Reasonable Steps in relation to Minimum Service Levels: letter to UK Government

Letter from Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy reiterating Scottish Government's opposition to minimum service levels and noting draft code is likely to be unworkable.

To: Kevin Hollinrake MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Enterprise and Markets
From: Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy, Neil Gray

4 October 2023

Dear Kevin,

I refer to the UK Government’s current consultation on a ‘Code of Practice on Reasonable Steps’ pertaining to the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act.  I am also aware that relevant UK Departments are seeking engagement from their Scottish counterparts in respect of the development of minimum service levels in devolved areas.

The Scottish Government continues to regard this legislation as unnecessary, unwanted and ineffective. It seeks to undermine legitimate trade union activity, does not respect our Fair Work principles, and acts against the interests of the Scottish public, workers, employers and the delivery of public services in Scotland. 

The Code of Practice introduces the concept of a reasonable step in relation to picketing, yet picketing does not feature in the Act. It is prescriptive and complicates rather than enables the process for implementing a minimum service level. It places the burden of compliance and penalties on workers and trade unions with considerable penalties both in terms of security of employment and financial detriment. The requirement of work notices to name individual members of staff would put a significant strain on relationships between employers and workers.

The Scottish Government will continue its long-standing position that a progressive approach to industrial relations along with stronger – not weaker – protections for workers is at the heart of a fairer, more successful society. We have demonstrated in Scotland that it is possible to resolve industrial disputes through negotiation and a partnership approach that values the contribution of front-line workers in essential public services. I remain of the view that the Act does not enable better outcomes.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Gray

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