Protesters gathered to relay the message ‘Enough is Enough’ (Picture: Guy Smallman/Getty Images)
Huge protests have been held in response to a new Bill which aims to curb strike disruption in Britain.
Mass walk outs have taken place amid a ‘winter of discontent’ which has seen thousands call for better pay and working conditions.
Teachers, train drivers, civil servants, university lecturers, bus drivers and security guards from seven unions walk out on Wednesday – the biggest day of industrial action in more than a decade.
But the Government’s new strikes law could hinder the future of industrial action.
The controversial proposals aim to ensure there are minimum working standards during strike days across six sectors, including health and transport.
The Strikes (Minimum Services Levels) Bill cleared the Commons in a late-night Monday sitting, with MPs voting 315 to 246, a majority of 69.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said Labour would repeal it if the party was elected to power.
She added: ‘It threatens key workers with the sack during a workers shortage and crisis, mounts an outright assault on the fundamental freedom of working people, while doing absolutely nothing to resolve the crisis at hand.
The new Bill will curb disruption caused by industrial action (Picture: PA)
A group gathered outside Downing Street last night to protest the right to strike (Picture: Vuk Valcic/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock)
Labour say the new Bill is ‘shoddy and unworkable’ (Picture: Hesther Ng/SOPA Images/Shutterstock)
‘Let’s look at what this is really all about: a Government that is playing politics with key workers’ lives because they can’t stomach negotiation, a Government that is lashing out at working people instead of dealing with its 13 years of failure, and a Government and Prime Minister dangerously out of his depth and running scared of scrutiny.
‘We on these benches will vote against this shoddy, unworkable Bill.’
A large group protested the Bill outside Downing Street last night, with many carrying signs criticising Rishi Sunak’s Government.
Yesterday, Business Secretary Grant Shapps had claimed the Bill was ‘simply proposing to protect people’s lives and to protect people’s livelihoods’.
Nurses march towards Downing Street amid walk outs earlier this month (Picture: PA)
Union members in Edinburgh held strikes to highlight the need for a fair pay deal for Scotland’s teachers (Picture: PA)
Further industrial action is planned across several sectors this week (Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
In a short speech, he added: ‘We move this debate this evening and this third reading because we care about people in our workforce, because we care about their livelihoods and because we care about our constituents and their ability to access vital services.’
His comments come as Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned it will be subject to legal challenges unless it is drastically amended.
The Conservative former business secretary gave his backing to the Bill in the Commons, but said it was ‘badly written’ and criticised the sweeping powers it gives to his successor Grant Shapps.
Mr Rees-Mogg urged ministers to allow the House of Lords to amend the Bill to add detail to it, claiming this would mean it was ‘much less susceptible to judicial review’.
He told the Commons: ‘I am a supporter of this Bill, I think this is a good Bill and a proportionate Bill, but it is a badly written Bill.’
In the Commons yesterday, MPs from Wales and Scotland sought to exclude the devolved nations from the Bill’s remit.
Labour MP for the Cynon Valley, Beth Winter, urged MPs to support her attempts to prevent the Bill from applying to Wales, while SNP MP Alan Brown tabled an amendment aimed at making it ‘clear that these Henry VIII powers should not and do not extend to devolved legislation’.
An SNP-backed amendment aiming to make sure the Bill would not come into force without the consent of the Welsh and Scottish parliaments was rejected by 321 to 46, majority 275.
The Bill will undergo further scrutiny in the House of Lords at a later date.
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Labour say the new Bill is ‘shoddy and unworkable’.