Nautilus joined thousands of UK trade union members on a march and rally in Cheltenham to protest new anti-strike laws.
The rally was organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) which has warned that around 5.5 million workers across England, Scotland and Wales could have their right to strike threatened by the legislation – known as Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act.
The legislation is the latest government move aimed at weakening trade unions' freedom to organise strike action. It means that when workers lawfully vote to strike in health, education, fire, transport, border security and nuclear decommissioning, they could be forced to attend work – and sacked if they don't comply.
The TUC says the new strike curbs are 'undemocratic, unworkable and likely illegal'. The rally was held after two recent events which the TUC says demonstrates this. Firstly, Aslef union saw off the threat of minimum service levels being imposed on their members during the planned rail strike on LNER on Friday 2 February 2024. Secondly, public service sector union PCS announced it is going to challenge the regulations setting out the minimum service level for border security staff in court.
The only Nautilus International members who will be affected by the new legislation are those working for Border Force, as it comes under border security. Otherwise, the legislative power for it to be extended to transport does not yet include maritime transport.
However, the Union is concerned that members, particularly at the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) where the Union is currently balloting for industrial action after a derisory 4.5% pay offer, could eventually be targeted under the legislation. Nautilus International will continue to work with the TUC and other trade unions in opposition to the legislation and will explore measures to oppose the law if it is used to target Nautilus members.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has written to the government to express 'serious concerns' about its anti-strike legislation breaching international law. Nautilus International also welcomed an intervention by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in June last year, which has declared that the UK government's planned anti-strike laws must be changed.
The Act has faced a barrage of criticism from The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, civil liberties organisations, the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, race and gender equalities groups, employment rights lawyers, and politicians around the world.
The rally came ahead of TUC's HeartUnions Week – 12 to 18 February – an annual event focusing on growing the trade union movement, which encourages workers to join a union.