OH Swiney has warned that Westminster should not be able to enforce minimum service levels during industrial action in Scotland.
The Deputy First Minister has written to UK Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business Kevin Hollinrek to set out the Scottish Government’s opposition to the legislative proposals.
The controversial plans, dubbed anti-strike laws, would require ambulance crews, firefighters, rail workers and other essential workers to maintain a minimum level of service (MSL) during the strike.
Mr Swinney has said the Strike (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament, will undermine the Scottish Government’s fair working principles, while it interferes with devolved legislation.
And he criticized the lack of engagement with Scottish ministers before the motion was tabled at Westminster.
In the letter, which was also sent to Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, Mr Swinney said: “It would give UK ministers the power to intervene in public services by setting minimum service levels.
“The effect of these regulations on the functions of the Scottish Government and the conduct of devolved public bodies is the object of the Bill, and is more than incidental.
“We are therefore taking a careful look at the Bill to assess the need for legislative assent to its provisions from the Scottish Parliament.”
It is therefore clear that the UK Government is not in a position to decide whether MSL is required for these devolved areas.
They claimed that the legislation, if passed, would not require the agreement or consultation of the Scottish Government, despite directly affecting areas under the competence of the Scottish Parliament – including health, education, some elements of transport and fire and rescue services. Will be
Mr Swinney said: “It is therefore clear that the UK Government is in no position to decide whether MSLs are required for these developed areas or what such MSLs should contain.”
He also said the plans risked adding “fuel to the fire” on relations with trade unions, which are already “at such a low ebb”.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously opposed the proposals, pledging to fight the legislation “at every step”.
A UK government spokesman said: “Many countries in Europe and around the world that are signatories to the International Labor Organization have minimum service levels covering a range of key services.
“We must keep the public safe, which is why we are introducing minimum service and safety levels in a number of areas to ensure that lives and livelihoods are not lost.”
(Tags to translate) Scottish Parliament