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UK set to introduce new anti-strike law amid mass walkouts

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM: Passengers walk along platforms to board the limited running services as Rail workers continue their strike over pay, job, security and working conditions in London, United Kingdom, on January 03, 2023. (Raşid Necati Aslım - Anadolu Agency)
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Jan 06, 2023 - 07:05 AM

LONDON (AA) – The British government is set to introduce a new anti-strike law as the country grapples with a wave of industrial action including from nurses, postal workers and university lecturers amid a bitter cost-of-living crisis triggered by soaring inflation and a deteriorating economy.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement that measures were being introduced to “restore the balance between those seeking to strike and protecting the public from disproportionate disruption.”

He said the government has been in talks with the unions about having an honest conversation on pay, conditions and reform.

“Industrial action is disruptive for everyone – from people relying on essential services to get to work or care for their family to hard-working business owners whose sales suffer. It also costs those striking at a time when family budgets are tight,” he said.

The legislation will be introduced in Parliament in the coming weeks.

It will enforce “minimum service levels” in six sectors, including health service, rail, education, fire and border security.

Meanwhile, one major union leader warned that rules limiting strikes could have an unintended “knock-on effect.”

The statement came as almost no trains were running in most parts of England on Thursday as train drivers at 15 operating companies went on strike.

“We’re currently – with 11 other trade unions – taking legal action against the last set of laws they put in place, and we would look at doing that in the future as well,” Mick Whelan, general secretary of the ASLEF union, which represents 96% of train drivers in England, Scotland and Wales, told Sky News.

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