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THE government charged ahead with new legislation today to provide employers with scab workers during strikes, despite warnings that the “reckless” plan is a danger to the public.
The long-planned Bill was brought forward after rail union RMT launched nationwide strike action in defence of jobs, pay and rail safety.
Existing Tory laws forbidding the use of agency workers to do strikers’ jobs has been dumped and the practice will be allowed – even though agencies themselves say they do not want it.
The TUC said the new rules would “endanger public safety” and “poison industrial relations,” accusing Transport Secretary Grant Shapps of using the “P&O playbook.”
The term is a reference to the unlawful sacking of 800 workers by the ferry firm and their replacement with cheaper agency staff.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government should be getting people around the table to find a fair resolution to this rail dispute.
“But ministers are more interested in cynically picking a fight with unions than reaching a negotiated settlement.
“Having slammed P&O for replacing experienced workers with agency staff, Grant Shapps is using the same playbook.”
Ms O’Grady said the plans are a deliberate attempt to undermine the right to strike and workers’ bargaining power.
She said: “Bringing in less qualified agency staff to deliver important services will endanger public safety, worsen disputes and poison industrial relations.
“Unions and the agency recruitment industry have both warned ministers these plans are unworkable.
“The government is chasing headlines, rather than acting in the national interest.”
The TUC and employers’ body the Recruitment Employment Federation issued a joint statement calling on the government to abandon its plan.
Labour deputy leader and shadow future of work secretary Angela Rayner said: “This is a recipe for disaster, not just undermining pay and working conditions, but risking public safety and ripping up ministers’ own words.
“The idea this could solve the travel chaos they have created is just more Tory fantasy in place of real solutions.
“It’s no wonder business leaders oppose it as much as trade unions do.”
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