Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill: further letter to UK Government - 30 June 2023

Letter from the Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy reiterating opposition to the bill and calling for its abandonment.

To: Kevin Hollinrake MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
From: Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy, Neil Gray

30 June 2023

Dear Kevin,

I am writing with regards to the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, noting that it returns to the House of Lords next week for further considerations. 

As you know, from previous correspondence from our then Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, the Scottish Government is vehemently opposed to this Bill in its entirety. I am further appalled, but unfortunately not surprised as I watch what would, in my view, be helpful amendments proposed by the House of Lords be overturned and sensible measures  - including territorial application to England only – rejected. 

The Scottish Government is implacable in its view that this Bill is unnecessary, unwanted and ineffective. It seeks to undermine legitimate trade union activity and does not respect the Scottish Government’s Fair Work principles of effective voice, fulfilment, opportunity, respect and security. I would reiterate the position made clear by Scottish Minsters since the outset of this Bill, that as Governments, we should be working with the public sector and trade unions to reach fair and reasonable settlements respecting the legitimate interest of workers, not seeking to curb their right to strike. The UK Government’s introduction of this wholly unwelcome Bill is unnecessarily inflammatory and will therefore act against the interest of the public.

The Scottish Government’s assessment from the outset has been that regulations made under this Bill will affect operational decisions in devolved areas and therefore in its practical application, encroaches on devolved matters. As the First Minister made clear in his speech to the Scottish Trades Union Congress on 17 April,  the Scottish Government will never issue or enforce a single work notice.  We will continue to do everything we can to oppose this disgraceful, abhorrent legislation, it has no place here in Scotland.

There is still time to abandon the Bill prior to Royal Assent and I would urge you to do so in respect of workers’ rights to legitimate industrial action, and to the democratic mandate of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Ministers for delivery in devolved matters.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Gray

Back to top