Posted 20th December 2019 | 1 Comment

20 December: news in brief

Union protests at proposed ‘draconian’ rail strike law

PLANS to legally restrict the extent of rail strikes, requiring a minimum level of service, are being opposed by a rail union. The law was mentioned in the Queen’s Speech, as expected, and would require a ‘minimum service agreement’. If this is breached, unions could be liable for possibly heavy damages that could bankrupt them in the most extreme cases. The government said the aim was to reduce disruption, while preserving the right of workers to take industrial action. The RMT has dubbed it ‘a draconian measure which amounts to an attempt to ban transport workers from going on strike’. The union’s general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Taking industrial action is a basic human right and denying workers the ability to withdraw their labour has been the hallmark of hard right, authoritarian regimes.’ An RMT spokesman added that the law would ‘effectively ban all-out strikes. They will drag our workers with chains if needs be.’ The government said: ‘We will consult on how best to implement this in a proportionate way, including ensuring that sanctions are not directed at individual workers, and how this would interact with wider industrial relations.’

Strike closes Tyne & Wear Metro for two days

THE Tyne & Wear Metro network is closed today and tomorrow, and no rail replacement buses are running. The strike follows the RMT’s refusal to accept a 15 per cent pay rise over two years. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘ The company attitude shows nothing but contempt for our reasonable and justifiable claim which would provide flexibility for the introduction of the new rolling stock whilst seeing a fair increase in salary levels and a reduction in the working week for Traincrew grades. Management have rejected our proposals out of hand claiming there is no money which is total nonsense. Instead of trying to reach an agreement in this dispute the company have instead used their energy and money to use lawyers to try to challenge the legitimacy of our ballot.‘ Metro services director Chris Carson responded: ‘This RMT strike is totally unjustified and it is going to bring misery to many thousands of passengers on two very busy days in the countdown to Christmas. Tens of thousands of working people and businesses rely on Metro services, especially at this time of year. The union has demonstrated a callous disregard for the travelling public. Our offer would bring Metro’s train crew salary up to £46,000 per year by April 2022 after taking into account cost-of-living increases. We initiated further talks two weeks ago to avoid industrial action and agreed to meet the vast majority of union demands about rostering and shift patterns, but this was still not enough to prevent them from walking away and starting industrial action.’

Floods block Brighton Main Line

PASSENGERS are being advised to avoid the Brighton Main Line south of Gatwick Airport, after heavy rain in Sussex. There are floods in the Balcombe area, and no trains are runninig between Haywards Heath and Three Bridges. Southern is trying to provide a service between Brighton and Haywards Heath.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Tim Stevens, Peterborough

    The unions have brought this upon themselves by their unnecessary and irrational strikes, particularly the ongoing dispute over should open and close the train doors. The current SWR strike is a prime example of this.
    The unions now seem to use strikes as their first option rather than as a last resort. So the government is right to step in, to protect the livelihoods of the millions of commuters who rely on trains to get to and from work, and to mitigate the effects on the wider economy.