Downing Street slams US President’s criticism of new laws to restrict impact of strikes 

Butt out Biden! Downing Street slams US President’s criticism of new laws to restrict impact of strikes

  • Martin Walsh criticised plan to impose minimum service levels on striking unions
  • But US Labour Secretary admitted that he had not seen details of the legislation
  • No 10 hit back, saying British strike laws were still less restrictive than in the US

Downing Street hit back at Joe Biden‘s administration yesterday after it criticised Britain’s new anti-strike laws.

In a highly unusual intervention, US Labour Secretary Martin Walsh criticised the UK’s plan to impose minimum service levels on striking unions in key sectors such as rail, fire and ambulances.

Mr Walsh admitted he had not seen details of the legislation, but added: ‘I would not support anything that would take away from workers.’

No 10 hit back yesterday, saying that British strike laws were still less restrictive than those in the United States.

Downing Street hit back at Joe Biden's administration yesterday after it criticised Britain's new anti-strike laws

Downing Street hit back at Joe Biden’s administration yesterday after it criticised Britain’s new anti-strike laws

In a highly unusual intervention, US Labour Secretary Martin Walsh criticised the UK's plan to impose minimum service levels on striking unions in key sectors such as rail, fire and ambulances

In a highly unusual intervention, US Labour Secretary Martin Walsh criticised the UK’s plan to impose minimum service levels on striking unions in key sectors such as rail, fire and ambulances

The PM’s official spokesman said: ‘Many states prohibit strikes by emergency services altogether. Fire services are banned from striking in most states. 

‘And in December, President Biden signed legislation to block a national rail strike. 

‘The Labour Secretary was clear he had not seen the detailed legislation, which we are confident is proportionate. 

‘The steps we’re taking to introduce minimum service levels on critical sectors, including blue-light services… do not inhibit unions’ ability to strike.’

The spokesman insisted the spat did not signal a wider rift. ‘We have an enduring relationship with the US and that won’t change,’ he added.

Mr Walsh’s comment at the World Economic Forum in Davos came in response to concern voiced by Gilbert Houngbo, director general of the International Labour Organisation, who told the BBC: ‘We are very worried that workers may have to accept situations so they don’t get themselves out of a job. They may have to accept a situation that is below par.’

No 10 hit back yesterday, saying that British strike laws were still less restrictive than those in the United States

No 10 hit back yesterday, saying that British strike laws were still less restrictive than those in the United States

Mr Walsh admitted he had not seen details of the legislation, but added: 'I would not support anything that would take away from workers'

Mr Walsh admitted he had not seen details of the legislation, but added: ‘I would not support anything that would take away from workers’

Mr Walsh spoke up: ‘I don’t know about the legislation. But I certainly will work with the ILO… I would not support anything that would take away from workers.’

Business Secretary Grant Shapps had told MPs this week that the ILO believed minimum service levels were ‘a proportionate way of balancing the right to strike with the need to protect the wider public’. 

The row came as Rishi Sunak clashed over strikes with Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions. 

The Labour leader accused the PM of inflicting ‘lethal chaos’ on the NHS as ambulance waiting times hit record highs all around Britain.

The Prime Minister hit back that Sir Keir had refused to back minimum service levels in areas such as the ambulance service, where the unions are among Labour’s biggest donors. 

‘The reason he’s not patients first is because he’s in the pockets of his union paymasters,’ Mr Sunak said.

Source

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