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Council vows to protect staff rights to strike

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Front
Council vows to protect staff rights to strike

ASSURANCES have been given that no one in Dumfries and Galloway Council’s 6500-strong workforce will be blocked from taking strike action if they choose to do so.

The local authority have taken a stand against unpopular Tory Government legislation that gives employers the right to issue a “work notice” to trade unions and effectively stop strike action to ensure key public services are maintained at minimum service levels.

The UK Government’s controversial The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 has now passed into law, and relates to six service areas: health; fire and rescue; education; transport; decommissioning of nuclear installations and management of radioactive waste and spent fuel; and border security.

The Scottish and Welsh governments have already announced that they won’t be implementing the Act.

At last week’s full council meeting, Dumfries and Galloway councillors unanimously agreed to support this position – and vowed to protect their own staff from such measures.

This comes after North West Dumfries Councillor Andy Ferguson tabled a motion calling for the council to oppose the Act.

He said: “It is particularly relevant to us as a council as education, health, and transport come to some extent under our remit.

“Including other areas into legislation lies solely at the whim of UK ministers – should they choose to do so.

“So, what’s next? Is it the binmen?

“It should be noted that this council has an excellent record of understanding and co-operation with our joint trade unions, especially during industrial disputes.”

Stranraer and the Rhins Councillor Willie Scobie said: “As an active trade unionist all my days, I would support the motion in the spirit that it’s being introduced.

“I was always of the belief that bad legislation should be resisted.

Meanwhile, Vlad Valiente, the council’s head of governance and assurance, advised: “It’s simply a tool for employers to use if they wish to use it. They do not have to use it.”

Councillors also agreed to write to the UK government supporting the position of both the Scottish and Welsh governments, as well as the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, asking the organisation to consider taking a firm position on the matter.

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