European trade unions condemn UK government’s anti-strike legislation


EPSU, the ETF and ETUCE representing millions of public service, transport and education workers across Europe strongly condemn the UK government’s plans to legislate on minimum service levels.

Instead of making serious attempts to negotiate settlements to the current disputes about pay and other conditions in health services, central government, railways and education, the Conservative government is rushing through a new law that will impose minimum service levels in these sectors, including the possibility that strikers will be sacked if they fail to require with notices to work.

Livia Spera, General Secretary of the European Transport Workers’ Federation declares “Railway unions have been taking industrial action about pay, job cuts and changes to terms and conditions. Decades of rail privatisation have not only jeopardised working conditions, but also the quality, safety and frequency of rail service across UK. This explains why the recent wave of strikes have been widely supported by UK citizens. Instead of tackling the root causes of this massive protest and proceed with renationalising the rail system, the UK government has decided to hinder a fundamental trade union right. This is a battle for democracy, and we will fully support it, we are fully behind our UK trade unions.”

Susan Flocken, ETUCE European Director says “In comparison to other countries in Europe, the UK has got already some of the most restrictive rights to strike. Instead of further limiting trade unions in their right to call for industrial action, the UK government should move to increase its investment in the education sector for better pay, pension and working conditions of teachers, academics and other education personnel. Education staff deserve a pay rise above the inflation rate.

ETUCE stands in solidarity with its member organisations across the UK who are calling on the authorities to truly recognise the value and enhance the status of the teaching profession.”

Jan Willem Goudriaan, General secretary of the EPSU public services federation states “The UK government claims that it is bringing the UK into line with strike law in other countries. This is total nonsense. This ignores the fact that the UK is a complete outlier in the excessive rules on ballots and voting thresholds that it has imposed on public service workers. It is also ignoring that in countries like Italy or Spain, that it chooses as comparisons, guarantee a right to strike in their constitutions and a right to negotiate minimum service levels rather than have them imposed.”

EPSU, the EFT and ETUCE strongly support their UK affiliates in their current campaigns of strike action to secure better pay and conditions for public service workers. Pay rises that are urgently required in response to the cost-of-living crisis and long deserved after years of pay falling behind inflation.

The three federations also send their solidarity to the day of action on 1 February called by the TUC which will see many protests around the country along with strike action coordinated across the public services.


Jan Willem Goudriaan, EPSU General Secretary

Susan Flocken, ETUCE European Director

Livia Spera, ETF General Secretary

EPSU is the European Federation of Public Service Unions
ETUCE is the European Trade Union Committee for Education
ETF is the European Federation of Transport Workers Unions