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BORIS JOHNSON has issued a “declaration of war” on rail workers by calling for an effective ban on all-out rail strikes, trade unionists warned today.
The Queen’s Speech on Thursday is expected to include plans to prevent rail unions from being able to launch full-scale strike action, with a bill that will seek to ensure “minimum service levels” on “key” transport networks such as railways and bus routes.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that “the ability of a few people to prevent everyone from being able to earn a living has to come to an end.
“The new law will prevent London being brought to a standstill, with all the additional environmental damage done by people reverting to cars.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Banning strikes and denying workers the basic human right to withdraw their labour has been the hallmark of hard right, authoritarian regimes throughout history.
“Instead of attacking rail workers fighting to defend safety and disabled access, any responsible government would be tackling the scandal of private profiteering on Britain’s railways which has reduced services to chaos.”
He vowed RMT will “fight tooth and nail” against any plan that denies members their basic human rights.
Train drivers’ union Aslef also “utterly condemned” the plans.
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “This is nothing less than a declaration of war on transport workers.
“No trade unionist takes industrial action lightly, but we need that option to prevent bad employers riding roughshod over our working conditions and safety.
“This shows that this right-wing and authoritarian Tory government sees transport workers as the enemy. Not stakeholders.”
Mr Whelan also raised safety concerns over Mr Shapps’s understanding of minimum service provision, pointing out that the result of the plan will be mass overcrowding on platforms and services.
He warned: “Our members’ first duty is to keep passengers safe — they will not be party to the dangerous running of services.
“If the Transport Secretary and this nasty Tory government want to start a war with rail staff, our members are more than prepared to fight it and win.”
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