Socialist Worker

Trade Union Act—what do the Tories call 'important public services'?

For workers in some sectors the new Tory Trade Union Act puts up an additional barrier in an attempt to prevent strikes. If workers who usually provide “important public services” are balloted, at least 40 percent of those eligible to vote must vote yes. This is on top of the new rule that a ballot must have a 50 percent turnout

Issue No. 2544


  • Ambulance services responding to calls made to an emergency telephone number
  • A&E services in hospitals
  • Services provided in high-dependency units and intensive care in hospitals
  • Psychiatric services in hospitals that are required to prevent serious injury, serious illness or loss of life
  • Obstetric and midwifery services in hospitals that are required to prevent serious injury, serious illness or loss of life
  • Services provided in private hospitals or by private ambulances are exempt


  • Services by firefighters and fire and rescue authority personnel provided to extinguish fires and protect life and property


  • Examinations of people arriving or leaving the UK
  • Examinations of goods imported or exported from the UK
  • Patrol of sea and other waters
  • The collection and dissemination of intelligence by a Border Force officer for these purposes
  • The direction and control by a Border Force officer of these functions


  • London bus services
  • Passenger railway services, except where the service starts or ends outside Britain
  • Civil air traffic control services
  • Airport and port security services


  • Teaching and other services at schools except fee-paying schools
  • Teaching and other services at 16-19 academies
  • Teaching and other services at a further education institution where services to people of compulsory school age are publicly funded
  • These apply to the education of people under 17
The government plans to publish regulations on the sixth category of important public services – decommissioning of nuclear installations, management of radioactive waste and spent fuel

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