Court permits UNISON challenge on law allowing strike-breaking

The union is challenging government regulations that undermine the right to strike

The Royal Courts of Justice in London

The High Court has granted permission for UNISON to bring a legal challenge against the government to protect the right to strike.

UNISON is challenging government regulations that undermine the right to strike by allowing companies to hire agency workers to cover for those taking industrial action. The union argues that this is unlawful and violates fundamental trade union rights.

Describing the regulations as “impractical and dangerous”, UNISON director of legal services Adam Creme said: “These regulations have been made without any consultation since 2015. They allow employers to bus in people who are not qualified with the sole intention of breaking legitimate industrial action. 

“The government would do better to concentrate on entering into proper negotiations with unions to settle disputes.” 

UNISON’s case will be heard alongside two separate cases, brought by the NASUWT and the TUC, whose case is on behalf of eleven unions.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Government failures and a cost of living crisis have led to waves of industrial action across the UK.

“Every day, UNISON hears from public sector workers who are taking the difficult decision to strike because they cannot survive, or provide for their children, on their current wages. Striking is always done as a last resort, and with a heavy heart.

“Yet, rather than fixing the problems, the government appears determined to further turn its back on hard-working people.

“Breaking strikes with unqualified and ill-experienced agency workers doesn’t address the root causes of why people are striking, and it only puts the public in danger.”

The High Court hearing will be held from March 2023 onwards.