I SUPPORT the principle of the right to strike, writes MP Mel Stride.

A worker should, in most circumstances, be able to withdraw their labour if they choose to. 

It is a cornerstone of a democratic society, and it has been a powerful tool throughout the last century for workers to pursue better pay and conditions. 

But just as our right to protest has its limitations (you should not be able to assault someone, damage private or public property, or impede our emergency services during a protest), we must also balance the right to strike with the need to keep people safe and ensure that key local services remain accessible. 

Police officers for example are already prevented from taking strike action. 

This month the government is taking a major step towards securing this balance by introducing minimum service levels (MSLs) during strikes for the rail sector, border security and ambulance services. 

A consultation has also been launched to consider MSLs for children’s education. The introduction of MSLs will deliver on a 2019 manifesto commitment to protect the public from unnecessary disruption from strikes and follows in the footsteps of many other western countries where they are already in force. 

Within the rail sector, MSLs will reduce the impact of strike action by helping to ensure that 40% of timetabled services remain operational during a strike. 

The new regulations will not prevent unions from taking industrial action, but they will help to ensure that doctors, nurses and teachers can still get to work, that students can still get to school, and that patients can still attend important medical appointments.

Within border security, we are not looking to go as far as France, Spain and Germany by banning border security professionals from striking altogether, but we cannot leave our borders insufficiently guarded. 

A major strike without an MSL would be an open goal to criminals looking to traffic drugs, arms or people into the UK.

Within the ambulance services, MSLs will mean that emergency calls should always be answered and triaged. 

A response should also be organised for anyone with a life-threatening condition or illness or where there is no reasonable clinical alternative to an ambulance. 

Similarly, for non-emergency patient transfers by ambulance services, requests should always be answered and triaged, and transport organised for patients where there is no reasonable clinical alternative to an ambulance. 

It is likely that MSLs will mean that around 80% of usual ambulance provision should be provided during a strike. 

I think that this is a particularly important protection for what are often highly vulnerable people.

The Labour Party has pledged to repeal these regulations if they form the next government. 

► More from Mel here or follow him on X (Twitter) @MelJStride.