Legal curbs could be fast-tracked to limit damage of mass walkouts

Legal curbs on strikes could be fast-tracked to limit damage of mass walkouts

  • Ministers could fast- track legislation to limit the damage caused by mass strikes 
  • MPs want train companies to run a minimum level of services during walkouts 
  • They would mirror measures in European countries like France, Spain and Italy 

Ministers could fast- track legislation to limit the damage caused by mass strikes, it emerged last night.

MPs are calling for laws which would require train companies to run a minimum level of services during walkouts.

They would mirror measures in other European countries such as France, Spain and Italy designed to restrict chaos for travellers and the economy by large-scale industrial action.

A promise to introduce the measures was made in the Conservative manifesto at the 2019 general election. They were put on the back burner in the pandemic.

But Government sources last night said introducing them had ‘assumed a new importance’ after the RMT called national rail walkouts on June 21, 23 and 25.

A source said: ‘It’s come up the ministerial agenda very high.’ As a result, new measures could be in place sooner than planned. However, the source stressed primary legislation would likely be required, meaning they are unable to be brought in for several months – which would not be in time for the RMT walkouts.

Senior Tory MP Huw Merriman, chairman of the Commons transport committee, joined calls for the measures to be fast-tracked yesterday.

Ministers could fast-track legislation to limit the damage caused by mass strikes, it emerged last night. MPs are calling for laws which would require train companies to run a minimum level of services during walkouts

Senior Tory MP Huw Merriman, chairman of the Commons transport committee, joined calls for the measures to be fast-tracked yesterday, saying: ‘We regard rail as an essential service; that’s why we kept it running during the pandemic… if it was right that we kept the railway running then, it’s surely right that we keep it running during industrial action’

He said: ‘We regard rail as an essential service; that’s why we kept it running during the pandemic… if it was right that we kept the railway running then, it’s surely right that we keep it running during industrial action.’

He added: ‘If the Government wants to succeed in reforming the railways and getting through this industrial action then it may well need legislation in place in order to strengthen its arm.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the Government was ‘looking at all options’ to prevent disruption by national rail strikes

‘Without that it will be difficult just to negotiate with the unions if the trains grind to a halt, which it looks as if they will.’

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the Government was ‘looking at all options’ to prevent disruption.

As little as one in five services are expected to run on the RMT strike days, but it could be even fewer.

The 2019 Tory manifesto said: ‘We will require that a minimum service operates during transport strikes.

‘Rail workers deserve a fair deal, but it is not fair to let the trade unions undermine the livelihoods of others.’ Karl McCartney MP, on the Commons transport committee, called for union bosses to be forced to behave ‘in a much more responsible and constructive way.’

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