FIRST minister Mark Drakeford has accused the UK Government of throwing "sand in the eyes" of the public after it was confirmed that Westminster would try to repeal an act banning the use of agency workers to cover striking staff.

Talking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the first minister was asked about plans from the Westminster government to repeal the 2017 Trade Union Wales Act, which forbids the use of agencies to temporarily fill the vacancies left by workers who are on strike.

The legislation was passed to protect the rights of workers in devolved areas like health and education.

Mr Drakeford barely disguised his anger over the fact that the plans were revealed "without a word of discussion" with the Welsh Government.

"It speaks volumes of the disrespectful agenda that this Westminster government has towards devolution and of course we will resist it", he said.

On the principal of replacing rail workers with agency staff, Mr Drakeford saidL "It’s nonsense. The idea that you’ll find an agency worker capable of driving a train, of operating a signal box. These are hugely safety critical roles. This is just a piece of nonsense".

He then went on to attack the Conservative government more generally, saying: "It’s sand in people’s eyes. Where was that government last week when it ought to have been around the table helping to resolve this difficulty? Why wasn’t it there speaking up on behalf of the travelling public and funding a solution?

"We’ve got a government that’s absent on the job - it doesn’t engage where it ought to engage, and it indulges in makebelieve sorts of policies… to disguise their own abject failures".

Numerous Members of the Senedd have objected to the move, including Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds who said: "This latest move by the UK Government is a disgrace. This is just the latest episode in a sustained assault by the Conservative Party on the democratic legitimacy of the Senedd and devolved lawmaking.

"The fact they are overriding our Parliament to try and trample on workers' rights only makes it all the more disturbing."

  • This article originally appeared on our sister site The National.