High Court Rules Temporary Workers Can’t Cover Strikes

The High Court has quashed a legal change that ministers made last year that allowed recruitment agencies to supply temporary workers to cover those taking strike action.  This was a very short-lived piece of legislation rushed through last year, and has now been ruled “unlawful, unfair and irrational” by a high court judge.

The decision follows legal action that has been taken by a group pf 11 trade unions, led by the TUC, specifically arguing that:

  • The then Secretary of State for business failed to consult unions, as required by the Employment Agencies Act 1973.
  • The legislation violated fundamental trade union rights protected by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The group of unions also reported the UK government to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), an agency of the United Nations that sets standards for workers around the world.

The decision to repeal last year’s legislation change means that temporary workers cannot be used to cover strikes with immediate effect.

It is a big victory for workers’ rights. There’s a reason that staff choose to strike – and it’s not always just about pay. Many are hugely concerned about working conditions. By allowing temps to replace them in these same conditions, the government was showing zero consideration for the welfare of temporary workers.


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