An SNP cabinet secretary has hit out at the “unnecessary, unwanted and ineffective” proposals by the UK Government to crack down on strike action in key industries and services.

The Tory government at Westminster has pushed forward with its plans to require that “minimum service levels” can be applied during strikes in six key sectors – health, fire and rescue, education, transport, border security and the decommissioning of nuclear facilities and the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel.

Following the legislation becoming law in July, the UK Government is drawing up plans to implement minimum service levels for passenger rail services, ambulance services and fire and rescue services, while Tory ministers have suggested including doctors and nurses in the crackdown.

Concerns have been raised that it undermines workers’ ability to strike and take industrial action, but UK Government junior minister for enterprise and markets, Kevin Hollinrake, has stressed the legislation is “an appropriate balance between the ability to strike and protecting lives and livelihoods”, adding that the “new laws will not prevent a union from organising industrial action”.

Labour has committed to repeal the legislation if the party wins power at next year’s general election.

Under the legislation, once a “work notice” is given to a trade union by a UK secretary of state, the union “must take reasonable steps to ensure that all members of that union who are identified within the work notice comply”.

The UK Government is currently consulting about what those “reasonable steps” could include protecting the union from “proceedings” brought by the employer, which could include “the employers seeking damages from the union or an injunction to prevent the strike action taking place”.

The UK Government’s consultation document states that the code of practice “is to provide guidance for trade unions on what reasonable steps should be taken by unions in relation to this obligation”.

But in a response to the consultation, the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Economy and Fair Work Secretary, Neil Gray, has insisted his administration remains opposed to the legislation.

In a letter to Mr Hollinrake, Mr Gray highlights that “relevant UK departments are seeking engagement from their Scottish counterparts in respect of the development of minimum service levels in devolved areas”.

But he insists: “The Scottish Government continues to regard this legislation as unnecessary, unwanted and ineffective.

“It seeks to undermine legitimate trade union activity, does not respect our fair work principles, and acts against the interests of the Scottish public, workers, employers and the delivery of public services in Scotland.”

At the STUC conference in April, First Minister Humza Yousaf insisted that “the Scottish Government will never issue or enforce a single work notice” and “will continue to do everything we can to oppose this disgraceful legislation”.

FBU general secretary, Matt Wrack, has suggested that a “strategy of non-cooperation and non-compliance” from devolved governments including Mr Yousaf’s administration could make the legislation “inoperable”.

In his letter, Mr Gray pointed to the proposed code of practice that “introduces the concept of a reasonable step in relation to picketing”, but warns “picketing does not feature in the act”.

He adds: “It is prescriptive and complicates rather than enables the process for implementing a minimum service level.

“It places the burden of compliance and penalties on workers and trade unions with considerable penalties both in terms of security of employment and financial detriment.

“The requirement of work notices to name individual members of staff would put a significant strain on relationships between employers and workers.”

Mr Gray has insisted that the Scottish Government “will continue its long-standing position that a progressive approach to industrial relations along with stronger – not weaker – protections for workers is at the heart of a fairer, more successful society”.

He added: “We have demonstrated in Scotland that it is possible to resolve industrial disputes through negotiation and a partnership approach that values the contribution of front-line workers in essential public services.

“I remain of the view that the act does not enable better outcomes.”