KEIR Starmer has been challenged to back the devolution of employment law to Scotland and team up with the SNP to defend workers against the Westminster Tories “attack on rights”.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn wrote to the Labour leader inviting him to a meeting to “find common cause” and “work together” to stop Rishi Sunak’s anti-strike law bid.

The Prime Minister last week promised “tough” new laws to limit the impact of strike action, but has faced fierce opposition from trade unions. The legislation would include widening its scope to ensure minimum levels of service during industrial action on transport or other critical public services, including the NHS.

READ MORE: Union leaders will push for ‘national NHS conversation’

It comes as healthcare workers including nurses, paramedics, postal and rail workers, and Border Force staff are poised to take industrial action.

The PM’s official spokesman declined to provide a timeline or any details on the plans, saying only that they were to be brought in “as swiftly as possible”.

He indicated the minimum service level legislation, first promised in 2019, could be extended from imposing minimum service levels on transport to other public services.

Flynn, who took over as SNP Westminster group leader from Ian Blackford last month, wrote to Starmer ahead of Westminster returning from recess on Monday.

He said: “I am proposing that we meet, discuss, and agree the use of any and every parliamentary tactic that will help to obstruct and defeat this blatant attack on workers’ rights.

The National: Flynn said the SNP and Labour should work together to stop Tory anti-strike lawsFlynn said the SNP and Labour should work together to stop Tory anti-strike laws

“Working together as opposition parties, in a concerted and coherent effort to defeat this bill, is the very least workers expect and deserve.”

Flynn pointed out that the UK has the most “restrictive anti-trade union laws in Europe” which has been undermined by the “deep damage of Brexit”.

He added: “Therefore, in making every effort to defeat this latest attack, it is equally important that we agree permanent protections to defend workers from constant Westminster efforts to erode their hard won rights.”

Flynn also urged the Labour leader to clarify his position on the devolution of employment powers, something referenced in Starmer’s New Year speech.

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He added: “If the Scottish Parliament held powers over employment law, not alone could we defend workers against this latest Tory legislation, we could repeal all the other Westminster attacks on working people and trade unions.

“The Scottish Parliament could enhance workers’ rights, instead of a Westminster government that constantly undermines them. If you are truly committed to protecting workers from these Tory attacks, can you now clarify and confirm if you are reversing the Labour Party’s long-standing opposition to the devolution of employment law to the Scottish Parliament?”

Flynn added that a U-turn from Starmer would be “widely welcomed” and ensure that Westminster would no longer have powers to “rip up workers rights in Scotland”.

The National approached Labour for comment, but Starmer did not respond to the letter.

The National: Starmer has been challenged to support the devolution of employment law to ScotlandStarmer has been challenged to support the devolution of employment law to Scotland (Image: PA)

Instead Daniel Johnson MSP, the party’s economy spokesperson, said: ““This is desperate stuff from Stephen Flynn, who is pretending workers’ rights are safe in SNP hands while their government imposes pay deals on nurses and thousands of Scottish workers are forced to take industrial action to defend their conditions.

“Labour want to raise standards across our country which is why the next Labour Government will deliver a new deal for working people in Scotland and across the UK.

“Only a Labour government can stop these Tory attacks on workers’ rights and deliver a fairer deal for workers in every single part of the UK.”

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak insists he can' get to grips' with crisis facing NHS

It comes as Labour attacked the Tories for a “devastating” fall in wages since the right-wing party took power in Westminster.

Scottish Labour, from an analysis of data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), suggested real wages in Scotland have fallen by an average of £6000 per year, a fall of around 2.3% since 2010 when inflation was taken into account.

The party said this meant Scots suffered an average drop in income of £779, but regional variations show an average fall of £5995 in Edinburgh South (-14.3%), £4198 in Glasgow North West (-11.2%) and £3807 in Aberdeen South (-9.8%).

Ian Murray, Labour’s only Scottish MP and shadow Scotland Secretary, said: “The Conservatives’ utter failure to grow the economy means that real wages are lower now than when they came to power.”

A UK Treasury spokesperson said: “Since 2010, we have also increased the tax-free allowances for both income tax and national insurance by more than inflation – roughly doubling them in cash terms to take millions more people out of paying tax altogether.

“However, high inflation driven by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is slowing economic growth across the world and no country is immune.

“But we have a plan that will halve inflation this year, while laying the foundations for long-term growth through record investment in infrastructure and new industries.”