Oxford University Students Union Statement on Opposition to the Minimum Service Levels Act
Issued on 14 December 2023
Following a motion passed in student council (21st November 2023), The Oxford University Students Union (Oxford SU) is publishing this statement to express its firm opposition to the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 (1) and reaffirm its commitment to upholding the rights of workers and students alike. This statement aligns with the views of students and the democratic passing in favour to oppose the Minimum Service Levels Act. As an organisation, we are committed to amplifying the voices of our members.
The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023, which received royal assent in July 2023, allows employers, including those in the education sector, to enforce minimum service levels during strikes by requiring certain striking workers to attend their workplaces. Oxford SU acknowledges that while employers are not legally obligated to implement this provision, it poses a significant threat to workers' rights.
The Act has been criticized by reputable organizations such as the Trades Union Congress (TUC) (2) and the University and College Union (UCU) (3), both condemning it as draconian, unnecessary, and unworkable. Oxford SU recognizes the Act as a severe infringement on worker's rights and stands in solidarity with university strikers.
Acknowledging the interconnectedness of lecturer's working conditions and students' learning conditions, Oxford SU emphasizes the adverse impact of crackdowns on workers' rights on the student body, as students are the future workforce.
Impact of the Act:
The government has a duty to protect employees' right to strike as enshrined in the Human Rights Act (4), Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (5), the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 87 (6), and Article 6(4) of the European Social Charter (7). Upholding these principles is considered a fundamental part of the UK's international commitments.
Under the Act, employers may issue 'work notices' to trade unions, identifying individuals required to work during strikes, including within the education sector. Oxford SU is deeply concerned about the Act's damaging impact, particularly the insufficient emphasis on employers' duty not to identify more persons than reasonably necessary. This oversight poses a threat to the right to strike and undermines trade unions' ability to support their members.
Oxford SU calls upon all students, staff, and stakeholders to join in opposing the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023. The union remains steadfast in its commitment to defending workers' rights and fostering an environment that upholds the principles of justice, fairness, and solidarity within the University community.
Calls to Action:
Oxford SU hereby establishes its official stance in public opposition to the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023. This includes the publication of a comprehensive statement criticizing the Act.
Oxford SU firmly opposes any attempt by the University to enforce minimum service levels by issuing work notices to any trade union during industrial action. This position is enshrined as official SU policy.
Oxford SU mandates the SU President, SU VP Undergraduate Education & Access, and SU VP Graduate Education & Access to lobby the University administration to publicly commit to never issuing work notices to any trade union under any circumstances.
For further inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Oxford University Student’s Union
University of Oxford