Eleven unions have launched legal action against the government over plans to allow agency workers to replace strikers.

In June it became known that the then Minister of Transport Grant Shapps was preparing a bill introducing a controversial measure.

The ministers said that it is necessary to prevent the violation of society by such mass protests recent strikes which brought the rail network to a standstill.

The TUC is co-ordinating legal action by ASLEF, BFAWU, FDA, GMB, NEU, NUJ, POA, PCS, RMT, Unite and Usdaw in the major struggle.

They claim the government has breached the Employment Agencies Act 1973 by failing to consult trade unions and is also in breach of “fundamental trade union rights” protected by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The right to strike is a fundamental freedom in the UK. But the government is attacking it in broad daylight.

“The threat to this right tilts the balance of power too much in favor of employers. This means that workers cannot advocate for decent services and safety at work – or protect their jobs and pay.

“The ministers did not consult with the trade unions, as required by law. And limiting the freedom to strike is a violation of international law.

“So the unions are coming together to challenge these changes in the courts.

“Workers need stronger legal protections and more power in the workplace to protect their living standards — not less.”

Richard Arthur, head of trade union law at Thompsons Solicitors LLP, which represents unions, said: “The right to strike is respected and protected under international law, including ILO Conventions, United Nations agencies and European law. Convention on Human Rights.

“The Conservative government should honor its legal obligations under both domestic and international law, instead of forever trying to undermine the internationally recognized right to strike.”

Government spokesman told Sky News in July: “The Business Secretary is unapologetic about taking action to keep essential services running as efficiently as possible, ensuring the British public do not have to pay the price for disproportionate strikes.”


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