Grant Shapps “misled the public” by claiming he had no role in the train strike


TUC chief Frances O’Grady said he is pulling the strings of the 15 train operators because contracts mean they are unable to negotiate wages, working conditions and pensions for 40,000 striking RMT workers without his approval


Grant Shapps keeps railway companies from agreeing with strikers as the network was shut down again yesterday.

And the TUC claimed the Transport Secretary was telling the public piggy by insisting he had no part to play.

Boss Frances O’Grady said he was pulling the strings of the 15 rail operators because contracts prevented them from negotiating wages, working conditions and pensions for 40,000 striking RMT workers without his approval.

If they tried to reach an agreement, he could fine them by billing them for any additional wage costs.

Ms O’Grady said: “The Prime Minister and the Secretary for Transport have misled the public.

“If they said the government has no role in handling this dispute, that is not true.”

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady



And RMT Secretary General Mick Lynch added: “We have always known that the Government has wide powers in these negotiations and this legal opinion confirms that.

“Grant Shapps needs to stop tying down the railroads and allow RMT to make a deal.”

The legal opinion was commissioned by the TUC from labor solicitor Michael Ford QC, who tears apart the Transport Secretary’s claim that he needs to stay out of it.

Mr Ford examined railroad contracts to unveil a secret dispute settlement plan that railroad operators must comply with.

That, he said, “gives the Secretary of State final power and direction to deal with the strike.

“These provisions mean that train operators have no freedom to negotiate matters that have led to the current dispute.

“It is the SoS and not the operator that has overall direction and control over the strike.”

This contradicts Mr Shapps’ claim before Parliament on June 15 that “these negotiations are a matter between the employer and the union”.

RMT boss Mick Lynch



He told TalkTV’s Piers Morgan seven days later: “This is a negotiation between the union and the employer. It is the only place where discussions can take place. I cannot settle this dispute.”

Last week’s three-day strikes have cost the leisure and tourism industry £1billion, according to Kate Nicholls, chief executive of Britain’s hospitality industry.

Mr Lynch yesterday reiterated his call for Mr Shapps to join the talks as only one in five services was running on the third day of the strike.

He wants a guarantee without redundancies before talks about wages and working conditions.

No trains ran to many seaside resorts including Bournemouth, Blackpool, Margate, Llandudno and Skegness yesterday, and none in Cornwall.

Finance Minister Simon Clarke said yesterday that public sector pay should not exceed 3%. Mr. Lynch is looking for at least seven percent.

According to RMT, the government is likely to give rail operators £65m to protect their profits for the last three days of strikes.

Ms O’Grady added: “The Secretary for Transport could defuse this dispute.

“Instead, he toured television studios, adding fuel to the fire and trying to antagonize working people.”

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “The Secretary for Transport has an obligation to set the limits of taxpayer support and ultimately to sign off on an agreement – not to be involved in negotiating an agreement.

“The union is well aware that negotiations on wages and labor practices are not conducted with the government, but with employers.”

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