The UK government has put forward proposals to ensure legal “minimum levels of safety” during strikes.
The country has taken a massive hit in the public sector in recent months.
In a brief presentation of the legislation, the country’s business secretary, Grant Shapps, said the new law would require various workers to maintain what he called an “essential job”.
Mr Shapps told MPs: “While we fully believe in the right to strike, we have an obligation to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British people.” “The British need to know that when they have a heart attack, stroke or serious injury, an ambulance will appear, and if they need hospital care, they can get there.”
The proposals angered trade unionists, who called them “undemocratic” and threatened legal challenges. The UK’s main opposition party also opposes it, blaming the government for the current situation.
“He is right that it is the government’s duty to protect the public’s access to essential services, but livelihoods and lives are already being lost,” Labor Deputy Leader Angela Reiner told the House. “We all want a minimum standard of safety and staff service. It is the Minister’s failure to provide them.”
Although the government says the legislation targets what they call “blue light services”, it will also apply to other sectors such as railway workers, who remain locked in an ongoing dispute with employers over wages and conditions.
Labor, which is partly funded by 11 trade unions, has said it will scrap any such legislation that gets into the law books before the next general election, which is due in two years’ time.