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Give Scottish ministers power over minimum service laws, says Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has said Scottish ministers should have the power to exercise controversial new anti-strike legislation in devolved areas if it is passed by Westminster.

The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill would implement minimum service levels for workers in public services who decide to take strike action – most of which are in the gift of the devolved administrations – due to the UK Government’s control over employment law.

The legislation would extend to the health and fire services, as well as education, transport, border security and those responsible for the handling of radioactive waste and decommissioning of nuclear installations.

The First Minister has repeatedly said she is against the legislation and pledged to fight it “every step of the way”.

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Speaking at a briefing on NHS pressures on Monday, Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would not be a “willing implementer” of the Bill.

“The implementation of legislation like this, if you look at the sectors that are supposed to be covered by it – with one or possibly two exceptions – are devolved services,” the First Minister said.

“So deciding whether a minimum level of service was required, and what that should be, would be down to devolved services.

“So, my view, is that the legislation shouldn’t happen, take that as read, but if the Government is intent on going forward with it they should not apply it to Scotland but if they apply it to Scotland they should give the power to Scottish ministers to decide whether or not to implement it in the sectors effected.”

Ms Sturgeon said she made those same points “strongly” to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak when the pair met last week, adding: “We’ll see what the response is in the coming weeks and months.”