Labour would repeal anti-strike laws, says Sir Keir Starmer

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said his party would likely repeal any anti-strike legislation brought in by Rishi Sunak.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves hold drills used for aeroplane wing assembly, during a walkabout at UCL in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. Picture date: Thursday January 5, 2023.Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves hold drills used for aeroplane wing assembly, during a walkabout at UCL in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. Picture date: Thursday January 5, 2023.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves hold drills used for aeroplane wing assembly, during a walkabout at UCL in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. Picture date: Thursday January 5, 2023.

According to reports, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is considering measures which could allow employers to sue trade unions and sack workers if minimum service levels are not upheld during industrial action.

This comes amid a campaign of industrial action by workers across the NHS, including in Northern Ireland, over pay.

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Asked about the issue by Times Radio, Sir Keir said: “Frankly, the Government is all over the show on this. Every day there is a different briefing as to whether there is going to be legislation, what it is going to be and when it is going to come.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks during a visit to UCL at Here East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. Picture date: Thursday January 5, 2023.Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks during a visit to UCL at Here East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. Picture date: Thursday January 5, 2023.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks during a visit to UCL at Here East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. Picture date: Thursday January 5, 2023.

“I think there is a reason for that and that is because I don’t think this legislation is going to work. I am pretty sure they have had an assessment that tells them that it is likely to make a bad situation worse.

“Obviously we will look at what they bring forward, but if it is further restrictions then we would repeal it and the reason for that is I do not think that legislation is the way that you bring an end to industrial disputes.”

Earlier, the Shadow Chancellor said the new legislation reportedly being considered to stem strike action would go from “clapping our nurses to sacking them”.

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Rachel Reeves, asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether Labour would support such a Bill, said: “No, we will not support it.”

She added: “The NHS relies on the goodwill of doctors and nurses and other people who work in our health service.

“If you say that people can’t take industrial action, to say that we’re going from clapping our nurses to sacking them for taking industrial action — which is what the Government is now threatening — the idea that that’s going to produce outcomes and reduce delays for patients, that’s just for the birds.”

Asked whether Labour would agree to pay nurses more money, Rachel Reeves told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “With Labour, the cavalry is coming.

“We will invest in the NHS workforce and also, unlike this Government, we will sit down and negotiate with health service workers and their trade unions to get a deal so we can end these disputes.”