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Union coalition urges members to lobby councils over MSL laws

A COALITION of trade unions and campaign groups has urged members to write to their local council leaders, demanding that they pledge not to issue “work notices” under the anti-strike laws.

Strike Map says it will map the responses from local authorities and publicise those who pledge to uphold the right to strike.

Coalition co-founder and steering group member Henry Fowler said: “Scotland, Wales and Sheffield are already designated as ‘[Minimum Service Levels] MSL free zones,’ now we want to see this across the country.”

Supporting the campaign, Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “This Act is nothing short of union-busting.

“It overtly seeks to undermine the basic right of workers to withdraw their labour.”

Sarah Woolley, general secretary of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) and co-chairwoman of the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom, added: “They want to turn union members against each other, force them to scab on their friends and colleagues.

“We cannot stand by and let the government attack our members, not when we're fighting for fair pay and treatment.”

Strike Map also warned that if councils indicate they will comply with the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act, it plans an escalation strategy including petitions, office phone campaigns, and protests outside council buildings.

The campaign is also backed by the National Education Union, Association of Educational Psychologists, General Federation of Trade Unions, Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, Psychotherapy and Counselling Union, Transport Salaried Staff Association and United Road Transport Union.

Passed in the summer, the Act means workers in health, education, fire, transport, border security and nuclear decommissioning could be sacked if they go on strike, with unions facing fines of up to £1 million for not complying.

Mayors and council leaders warned Tory anti-strike laws will lead to “longer and more frequent” walkouts ahead of a TUC special congress on the subject in December.

Fourteen leaders including Andy Burnham, Sadiq Khan and Steve Rotherham joined forces with unions as they vowed to “explore every possible option” to avoid issuing strike bans in their areas.

The mayors of London, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Bristol and North of Tyne, and council leaders of Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Nottingham and Sheffield said the laws would “place severe and unacceptable restrictions on the fundamental right of a worker to take industrial action.”

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