23 January 2017
Tory MP Chris Philp is set to set forth further anti-trade union measure in a private members’ bill tomorrow, which has been backed by 50 of his peers.
The backbencher’s proposals – contained within the Industrial Action (Protection of Critical National Services) Bill – include having a high court judge rule on whether industrial action within sectors like transport was “reasonable and proportionate” before it could go ahead. In addition, transport services would be required to provide a “skeleton service” on strike days, even if strike action is allowed to go ahead – thereby removing the leverage trade unions currently hold to equalise the imbalance of power between employers and workers.
Philp stated that his plans would balance the “right to strike” with the “right to get to work”, but putting such restrictions on the right to strike would mean that unions have very little power in negotiations with employers over wages and conditions, tipping the balance even further in the favour of employers at a time when many large businesses such as Sports Direct are being shamed in the press for their exploitation of a desperate workforce.
Philp told the Press Association he thought his proposals have ““good prospects” of eventually becoming law and that he does not anticipate any opposition to his plans in the Commons when they are formally read tomorrow. However, it is rare for private members’ bills to be taken forward.
The MP based many of his proposals on the recent strike action against rail firm Southern, which he claimed was disproportionate. It seems the public disagrees, as a recent survey of survey of 1,000 people conducted by the Association for British Commuters (ABC) found that only 5% thought the unions (RMT and ASLEF) were entirely to blame for the strikes, with over half blaming either the Department for Transport or Southern Rail.
An Aslef source told the Morning Star: “This proposal is clearly outrageous. We are not galley slaves.
“We are taking perfectly lawful strike action and have been given a huge mandate to do so from our membership.
“We are a member-led organisation. The Tories think the answer to that is to change the law and redefine the status of rail workers to prevent them from striking.”