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Essential services

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Essential services

Essential services may refer to a class of occupations that have been legislated by a government to have special restrictions in regard to labour actions - Such as not being allowed to legally strike.

The International Labour Office, a United Nations agency, makes distinctions between an essential service and a minimum service.[1]

582. What is meant by essential services in the strict sense of the term depends to a large extent on the particular circumstances prevailing in a country. Moreover, this concept is not absolute, in the sense that a non-essential service may become essential if a strike lasts beyond a certain time or extends beyond a certain scope, thus endangering the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population.
585. The following may be considered to be essential services:
  • the hospital sector
  • electricity services ...;
  • water supply services ...;
  • the telephone service ...;
  • the police and the armed forces ...;
  • the fire-fighting services ...;
  • public or private prison services ...;
  • the provision of food to pupils of school age and the cleaning of schools ...;
  • air traffic control ….
587. The following do not constitute essential services in the strict sense of the term:
  • radio and television ...;
  • the petroleum sector ...;
  • ports ...;
  • banking ...;
  • computer services for the collection of excise duties and taxes ...;
  • department stores and pleasure parks ...;
  • the metal and mining sectors ...;
  • transport generally ...;
  • airline pilots ...;
  • production, transport and distribution of fuel ...;
  • railway services ...;
  • metropolitan transport ...;
  • postal services ...
  • refuse collection services ...;
  • refrigeration enterprises ...;
  • hotel services ...;
  • automobile manufacturing ...;
  • agricultural activities, the supply and distribution of foodstuffs ...;
  • the Mint ...;
  • Paramedics and ambulances ....;
  • the government printing service and the state alcohol, salt and tobacco monopolies ...;
  • the education sector ...;
  • mineral water bottling company ….

While maintaining a right to strike, the ILO recognizes situations and conditions under which a minimum operational service could be required.

606. The establishment of minimum services in the case of strike action should only be possible in: (1) services the interruption of which would endanger the life,
personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population (essential services in the strict sense of the term); (2) services which are not essential in the strict
sense of the term but where the extent and duration of a strike might be such as to result in an acute national crisis endangering the normal living conditions of
the population; and (3) in public services of fundamental importance.

Examples where the ILO considered conditions met for a minimum operational service include a ferry service, ports, underground railway, transportation of passengers and commercial goods, postal services, refuse collection service, the mint, banking services, petroleum sector services, education services, and animal health services.

References

  1. ^ International Labour Organization, Freedom of association - Digest of decisions and principles of the Freedom of Association Committee of the Governing Body of the ILO. Fifth (revised) edition, 2006.
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