13 January 2017
The government has released draft statutory instruments defining “important public services” as part of the Trade Union Act 2016.
The definition of “important” public services was a matter for contention during the passing of the bill, with many parties – including the Institute of Employment Rights – arguing that the UK should adopt the internationally recognised standard of “essential public services”, which encompasses services without which national security and the physical safety of the population could be put at risk. This may, for instance, include health, fire, police and border services.
However, determined to include transport and education in new restrictions on strike action, the Tory government pushed ahead to write its own definition of “important” services.
The services included in these definitions will have to jump through one extra hoop before they can take industrial action. As well as an increased threshold on turnout for strike ballots, which will apply to all workers, of 50%; “important” public service workers will also have to gain 40% support of the total workforce (including those who didn’t vote).
Click through to see who will be included in health services, fire services, transport, education, and border security.
It seems the recent London Underground and Southern Rail strikes would fall within these definitions, and will soon need to reach both turnout and support thresholds to take industrial action.