Minister Farry was speaking after MPs backed the Government’s Trade Union Bill in Parliament, which could place restrictions on picketing, imposing a minimum 50 per cent turnout in strike ballots and allowing employers to use agency workers to replace striking staff. It was passed by 33 votes at its second reading.
“Employment law is devolved to Northern Ireland. We are the only part of the UK in that position,” he said.
“This allows us the freedom to mirror reforms in Britain when they are in our interests and to design our approaches when a different approach is warranted.
“Given the controversial nature of these reforms, and their potential to undermine the trade union movement, our ability to chart our own course highlights the importance of devolution and the different outcomes that can be delivered. This situation should be a timely reminder to all the parties at a time when the devolved institutions are under great peril.
“These proposals risk seriously undermining well-established rights to industrial action by being an unbalanced and disproportionate response to some of the fundamental rights of workers. Rather, we need to build stronger and more constructive relationships between government, business and trade unions.”