The laws in question include a number that began their passage through Parliament under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s predecessor Boris Johnson, including the Online Safety Bill, as well as “new tough laws” to prevent strike disruption as revealed by Sunak last week.
Announced earlier in December, the strike law plans drew an immediate backlash from opposition leaders. The announcement comes as nurses, paramedics, rail staff and Border Force agents have all announced strike action to take place over the winter.
“My priority is making sure that I keep people safe, and that I minimise the disruption on their lives, and I will do what is required to do that,” Sunak told the BBC regarding the possibility of banning strikes among emergency services.
Richard Arthur, head of trade union law at Thompsons Solicitors, criticised the statement. “When Rishi Sunak says he’ll ‘do what he needs to do’, he is talking as if he can act without regard to the UK’s international legal obligations,” he said. “The right to strike is an internationally-recognised, fundamental human right, and needs to be given the respect it deserves. How come he gets to decide what is reasonable in the face of all of these international obligations which need to be complied with?
“People don’t choose to take industrial action lightly – they choose to do so when they’ve got no other option. If the prime minister decides to go down this route, he can rest assured he will meet the strongest possible resistance from the trade union movement.”