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Unions warn of ‘summer of discontent’ as Tories threaten tougher legislation to thwart strikes

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said ministers are considering drafting legislation that would make strikes illegal unless a certain number of workers are working before impending rail strikes

The RMT union elects its members to strike (file photo)
The RMT union elects its members to strike (file photo)

Union leaders have warned of a “summer of discontent” if the government goes ahead with its threat to tighten industrial action laws to make a rail strike more difficult.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said ministers are considering drafting legislation that would make strikes illegal unless a certain number of workers are working.

He said the government hopes unions “wake up and smell the coffee” and suggested strikes could discourage more people from traveling by train.

Mr Shapps also accused unions of resorting to industrial action rather than using it as a last resort, adding that the railways were already on “financial life support” due to the pandemic.

The Government’s 2019 Tory Manifesto promised minimum staffing requirements in the event of rail strikes threatens a major industrial dispute.







Transport Secretary Grant Shapps
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Picture:

Photo only/PA images)

“If they really get to that point, minimum service levels would be a way to protect these freight routes and things like that,” Mr Shapps added.

The RMT union is preparing to announce the results of a strike vote by 40,000 members on Wednesday that could pave the way for months of chaos on the rail network.

Another rail union, TSSA, has also threatened “a summer of discontent” if ongoing wage disputes are not settled.

Christina McAnea, general secretary of Unison, Britain’s largest trade union, said: “The fact that ministers are focusing on undermining workers’ fundamental rights rather than addressing the cost of living crisis speaks volumes.

“They are only interested in finding scapegoats for their own economic failures. The right to strike is an important line of defense to protect jobs, wages and services.

“The effect of abolition will be to lower wages even more, make it harder for millions to pay their bills and push them into poverty.”

Mr Shapps is meeting with Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week to discuss the possible consequences of the RMT vote.

The Transport Secretary said unions were “hasty” and urged them to come to the table to discuss their demands for higher wages.

He pointed out that union leaders failed to realize that the railroad was undergoing a “seismic shift” as many commuters could now work part or all of the time from home.

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/unions-warn-summer-discontent-tories-27033633 Unions warn of 'summer of discontent' as Tories threaten tougher legislation to thwart strikes

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