The Government is considering plans for a minimum staffing requirement during rail strikes as the threat of a major industrial action looms.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Sunday Telegraph that ministers are looking at drawing up laws which would make industrial action illegal unless a certain number of staff are working.
Mr Shapps told the newspaper that the government hopes the unions “will wake up and smell the coffee” and suggested that strikes could put more people off rail travel.
He also accused unions of going straight to industrial action rather than using it as a last resort, adding that railways were already on “financial life support” because of the pandemic.
Referring to a pledge in the Conservative manifesto for minimum services during strikes, he said: “We had a pledge in there about minimum service levels.
“If they really got to that point then minimum service levels would be a way to work towards protecting those freight routes and those sorts of things.”
Any attempt by Grant Shapps to make effective strike action illegal on the railways will be met with the fiercest resistance from RMT.
However, the RMT issued a stern warning that they will mount fierce resistance to any attempt by the government to reduce their right to strike on the railways.
Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, said:
“Any attempt by Grant Shapps to make effective strike action illegal on the railways will be met with the fiercest resistance from RMT and the wider trade union movement.
The government need to focus all their efforts on finding a just settlement to this rail dispute, not attack the democratic rights of working people.
Britain already has the worst trade union rights in Western Europe.”