Lawyers acting for trade unions say new legislation allowing agency workers to cover for staff on strike breaches international law, and the government is being challenged by 13 trade unions – ASLEF, BFAWU, BALPA, FDA, GMB, NEU, RMT, POA, PCS, UCU, USDAW, Unite and the NUJ.
The unions have written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who has 14 days to respond prior to a judicial claim being filed.
Represented by Thompsons Solicitors, their letter explains that the new regulations, introduced by the government in July, are a violation of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights which provides for freedom of assembly and association.
It also points out that the new regulations violate the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement under which the UK is required to respect, promote and implement internationally recognised core labour standards, including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.
The letter also argues that the business secretary has failed to discharge the obligation to consult with affected bodies, as required under the Employment Agencies Act 1973.
A government spokesperson said: “The business secretary makes no apology for taking action so that essential services are run as effectively as possible, ensuring the British public don’t have to pay the price for disproportionate strike action.”