Proposed Strike Bill Shows Government Losing Arguments – Mick Lynch

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch described the legislation, which will seek to minimize disruption to industrial action, as a “symbol” that the government was “losing the argument”.

The government announced on Thursday that it was moving ahead with plans to introduce new “minimum security levels” regulations during industrial action.

The bill will be introduced to Parliament in the coming weeks to ensure key public services maintain their “essential function” when workers go on strike.

Minimum levels of safety will be set for fire, ambulance and rail services, and the government has said it will consult on an “adequate level of coverage”.

Speaking from a picket at Euston station on Friday, Mr Lynch told BBC Breakfast that the government was trying to “shut down” trade unions with new legislation.

“This is symbolic of the government losing the argument,” he said.

“They lost the argument over austerity and wages and the state of our national public services.

“And instead, they want to close this argument by shutting down the unions and stopping us from campaigning against poverty.”

Industrial strike

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT union, joins union members at a picket outside London’s Euston station during a rail strike in a long-running dispute (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

He said the bill threatens to fire union members if they refuse to go to work.

“They say they will fire our members if they don’t go to work,” he said.

“They are going to recruit our members.

“We have to designate who will go to work and if those members legally refuse to cross our picket line they can be fired individually and the union can be fined.

“So we’ll have to see what the law says.”

(PA graphic)

(PA graphic)

It comes as services have been paralyzed by a strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 14 train operators on Friday.

The action will last 48 hours and comes after train drivers were stopped in the Aslef compound on Thursday, causing widespread disruption.

Only about 20% of normal services run on Friday, with trains terminating early.

The strike ends a week of railroad industrial action and the dispute remains deadlocked.

Speaking to broadcasters during a visit to a school in south-west London, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said his government had invited union leaders for what he hoped would be an “adult” talk on Monday about what is affordable.

The prime minister was asked whether the proposed legislation could see nurses fired for a strike and whether his ambition is to go further and make a few more strikes in critical services illegal.

Mr Sunak said: “Yesterday the government wrote to all union leaders inviting them to talks on Monday.

“We incredibly value the important work that our public sector employees do, especially our nurses, and we want to have an honest, grown-up conversation about what is affordable, what is responsible for the country.

“These invitations have been sent out and I hope these meetings can take place on Monday so that we can have a productive conversation and find a way to resolve this issue.”

Sunak did not rule out laying off people who did not go to work during the strikes under the proposed new rules.

Trains stored in sidings in Cambridgeshire as drivers drove to stri

Trains stopped in Cambridgeshire sidings as drivers take industrial action (Joe Giddens/PA)

Asked whether those who are not working can be made redundant under the legislation, Sunak told broadcasters: “I fully believe in the role of trade unions in our society and the freedom to strike.

“I also believe that this should be balanced with the right of ordinary working people to live free from significant disruption.

“That’s why we’re going to introduce new regulations, as in countries such as France, Italy, Spain and others, that will give us a minimum level of safety in critical areas such as fire or ambulance, so that even during strikes you know that your health is will be protected.

“I think that’s perfectly reasonable and that’s what our new legislation will do.”

He added that he “hoped” talks with union leaders could be “constructive” and “we will find a way to do that”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *