Agency workers verdict 'total vindication' for unions

High Court quashes government-backed plan to allow agency strike breakers

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News that the High Court has quashed the Government’s decision to allow agencies to supply agency workers to employers to undermine legal strike action was today (July 13) hailed by Unite as a “total vindication”.

Following the Government’s decision to reverse the ban on employers hiring agency workers during strike action in July 2022, a group of unions including Unite, challenged the decision through a judicial review coordinated by the TUC.

The High Court has upheld the unions’ judicial review. The 2022 amendment to the regulations has now been quashed due to the Government’s complete failure to consult prior to implementing their proposals, as required by legislation.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “This is a total vindication for unions and workers. The government’s decision to allow employers to recruit agency workers to undermine legal strike action was a cynical move to back their friends in business and weaken workers’ legal rights to withdraw their labour.

“It was entirely counterproductive as rather than weaken industrial action it has hardened attitudes and unnecessarily extended strikes. This ill-thought out, divisive legislation must be consigned to the dustbin of history.”

Employers will be barred from recruiting agency workers to undermine legal strike action from Wednesday, August 10. Unite will be ensuring that all companies where it is involved in disputes, are fully aware of the judgment and abide by the High Court decision.

Since July 2022, there have been several high profile industrial disputes, including a number of refuse strikes, where an employer has recruited significant numbers of agency workers to seek to undermine strike action.

Unite legal director Stephen Pinder said, “Unite will be leaving employers with no shadow of a doubt that once they are barred from using agency workers during strikes, they must abide by the letter of the law.”

By Barckley Sumner