MPs approved the controversial plans voting through the regulations on Monday night (July 11, 2022) by 289 votes to 202.
The business minister, Jane Hunt, said the change, which was accelerated as a result of the ongoing rail strikes, was needed to remove the 'outdated blanket ban' on using agency workers to cover official industrial action, but critics say the measure is akin to a 'scab charter'.
The change comes amid concerns that the country is facing a 'summer of discontent' filled with strike action in a number of sectors, including transport.
Agency representative group, APSCo had previously warned that Government plans to repeal a legal ban on agency staff filling in for workers on strike would breach international labour standards, and called for consultation before any changes were made. (See: Call for consultation on plans to use agency workers to cover strikes - JUne 2022, Shout99).
Tania Bowers, from APSCo said: "With the uncertainty of the ongoing leadership election, we believe this decision should at least have been delayed and time given to the new Prime Minister to consider this important change in legislation, particularly following the concerns that have been raised with us by so many recruitment leaders. APSCo has previously written to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and a number of Ministers calling on the need for a consultation before any decision is made. We received communication in response to this from Paul Scully MP whilst he was Business Minister that the proposed changes would continue to move forward despite the concerns raised.”
“While we recognise the desire to limit the disruption associated with staff strikes, other measures such as limiting this use of agency workers to replace striking workers to certain sectors and scenarios or only allowing this action to provide a skeleton crew, should at least have been considered. APSCo will continue to raise the concerns of our members with Government about both the timing of this legislation change and, more importantly, the ramifications this change will have for workers and business into the future.”
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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2022