Curtailing the right to strike is not only a human rights abuse but bad for industrial relations

17 December 2019

ASLEF utterly condemns Transport Secretary Grant Shapps' plans to curtail the right to strike on public transport. Not only is the right to withdraw your labour a human right, but this is almost certain to worsen industrial relations, not improve them.


Shapps' plan will mean that even when union members have jumped over the huge hurdles placed in front of them by some of the most draconian anti-unions laws in the developed world, they may still have their right to strike removed.


General Secretary Mick Whelan explained, "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 prevents 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."


Mick added, "It's funny how the Tory party are all in favour of de-regulation, until it comes to unions, where they enforce ever more draconian laws to stop working people holding bad bosses to account. However, I can tell you that if the employers were to be honest, they won’t want this as it will cause more industrial unrest not less."


There will also be key safety concerns around minimum service provision. "Shapps tells us his law will force our members to provide a 'bare-bones service' during industrial action. Yet the number of passengers won’t go down. So we'll end up with mass overcrowding on platforms and on board trains when our railway is already at capacity. Our members’ first duty is to keep passengers safe. They will not be party to the dangerous running of services."


Mick concluded, "Our members love our industry. ASLEF's priority is to improve the lives of our members and ensure a successful, growing and reliable railway. We never want to disrupt passengers. But 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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