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Tory MP brands government’s anti-strike bill ‘shameful'

  • A Tory MP has described the government's new anti-strike legislation as 'shameful'

  • MPs are set to vote on new legislation that will impose a minimum level of service in certain public sectors

  • Unions have accused the government of moving to 'make effective strike action illegal'

  • Read more on the row over strikes below

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Trade unions have criticised the government's new bill that would see the right to strike heavily curtailed for certain public sectors. (PA)

A Conservative MP has described the government's new attempt to curtail the rights of workers to strike as "shameful".

On Monday, MPs will vote on controversial legislation that would curtail the right of hundreds of thousands of public sector worker by imposing a legal duty of a minimum level of service on strike days.

Rishi Sunak has previously defended the legislation, saying it is "really important that we protect ordinary working people’s access to life-saving healthcare" as well access to the ambulance and fire services.

Read more: UK faces further disruption as teachers set to announce strike action

Britain has been hit by months of extremely disruptive strike action by unions across a variety of public sectors – including nurses, ambulance workers, and railway staff.

The new bill is Sunak's attempt to demonstrate he is getting to grips with the crisis.

Ahead of the proposed vote, Tory MP for Stevenage, Stephen McPartland, described the legislation as "shameful".

"I will vote against this shameful bill today," he said on Monday. "It does nothing to stop strikes – but individual NHS staff, teachers and workers can be targeted and sacked if they don’t betray their mates.

"Fine the unions if they won’t provide minimum service levels but don’t sack individuals."

However, despite McPartland's critique of the government's plans and the unease reported among some Tory MPs over the legislation, it is expected the government will successfully pass the bill.

Last week, business secretary Grant Shapps said a "civilised society" should ensure ambulances still turn up on a strike day.

UK strikes in January and February. (PA)
UK strikes in January and February. (PA)

"I don’t think any civilised society should have a situation where we can’t get agreement to, for example, have an ambulance turn up on a strike day for the most serious of all types of ailments," said Shapps.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has accused the government of wanting to "make effective strike action illegal" in the UK.

"Trades unionists and democrats from across the political spectrum must come together in the interests of civil liberties and human rights to oppose these measures," he said.

"This violation of democratic norms and values will be strongly opposed by the RMT and the entire labour movement, in parliament, the courts and the workplace, if it is put on the statute books."

The Labour party has pledged to repeal any anti-strike laws introduced by the government should it win power at the next election.

Read more: Wave of industrial action to continue in coming days with nurses on strike

"It's likely to make a bad situation worse... if it's further restrictions, then we will repeal it," Keir Starmer said. "I do not think that legislation is the way that you bring an end to industrial disputes. You have to get in the room and compromise."

Monday's vote on the bill comes on the same day as several education trade unions, including the 300,000-strong National Education Union (NEU), will reveal whether they have voted to take strike action.

Elsewhere, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) across England will walk out on Wednesday and Thursday, warning if progress is not made in negotiations by the end of January the next set of strikes will include all eligible members in England.

Watch: UK industrial action: What strikes are coming up?