“The government is considering banning the strike for essential services”, says the Minister of Affairs

June 20, 2022, 7:30 PM | Updated: June 20, 2022, 9:43 PM

The business minister has hinted the government may consider a strike ban for essential service workers, including the transport sector, ahead of the biggest nationwide railway strike in 30 years.

Paul Scully hinted that the government could consider a minimum level of service for the transport sector, adding that the strike by the RMT union is “in no way acceptable”.

Speaking on LBC’s Tonight With Andrew Marr, the government minister said: “Listen, I think there should be a mix of actions available to workers, but in this case there’s no way whether this is acceptable, it should always be used as a very last resort rather than a first resort and it seems far too early in the process for her to go on strike rather than talk.

“What we see with the disruption that is going to be caused tomorrow is that it is far too early in the process.

“You heard Mick Lynch addressing a group of people at a protest talking about a class war, you heard people push back that ‘oh the Tories and Boris Johnson want to see the strike’, under no circumstances do we want to see the disruption that is going to be caused by this strike.

Read more: Crippling rail strikes will plunge Britain into ‘lockdown’ as last-minute talks falter

Map of open lines (purple) on June 21, 23 and 25.  Not all stations will be served and the level of service will be greatly reduced on open lines, from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. only.

Map of open lines (purple) on June 21, 23 and 25. Not all stations will be served and the level of service will be greatly reduced on open lines, from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. only.

Image: Rail Network

“I am also a minister for London and we have a very fragile recovery in London and elsewhere trying to get people back to work trying to get students to be able to take their exams, this is the first time in two years we’ve been able to enjoy some of the freedoms and enjoy this summer and we don’t want to hurt that trust and that’s why we want unions back at the table.”

Asked by Andrew whether or not he backed Tory MPs suggesting a ban on strikes in essential services, he said: “Well in terms of essential services I think it’s worth looking into .

“I think in essential services what we will be looking at in due course are minimum service levels in certain circumstances, including in essential travel services.”

Mr Scully refuted the idea of ​​a complete ban on the continuation of transport strikes: “I think as to how it actually works, it’s up to us to detail that later, but there are essentially ways in which workers can show their displeasure with their employers without shutting down the entire service.”

Instead, the minister suggested ‘restricting work’ and ‘disrupting’ rail services instead of shutting down the network.

Read more: Andrew Marr: Rail strikes will cause biggest political problems for Labor

To which Andrew joked: ‘So the proposition seems to be that you might be able to go on strike in the future, but as long as it’s an ineffective strike and it makes people think the rail service sucks too than usual.”

Walkouts are taking place across the entire rail network tomorrow, Thursday and Saturday, causing disruption to millions of people.

The RMT union says last-minute talks with the government failed to resolve a row over wages, jobs and conditions.

General secretary Mick Lynch accused the government of ‘actively preventing’ a deal and said the union had deemed the proposals before it as ‘unacceptable’.

Speaking outside the RMT headquarters near Euston station in London, Mr Lynch said he could not see a settlement reached until employers could ‘negotiate freely’.

Downing Street has warned it will be ‘extremely difficult’ to get around during rail strikes as more than 50% of the rail network will be closed.

He said it was “deeply disappointing” that the strikes were continuing, arguing they would not solve problems on the railways.

RMT staff will be out on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but there will be reduced service throughout the week, with passengers advised to travel by train only when absolutely necessary.

Huge disruption is expected, with festival-goers, GCSE students and holidaymakers among millions whose plans risk being scuppered – compounded by soaring petrol prices.

If you are traveling to or from places without services – such as Bournemouth, Swansea, Holyhead and Chester – you will not be able to take trains and should find other ways to travel.

If you are not in one of these areas, you are advised to avoid traveling by train if you can, but there will be reduced services if you need them.

Passengers who need to travel are urged to plan ahead to ensure they can make their journey within the window, with the latest services from London to Scotland, for example, departing in the early afternoon.

Michelle J. Kelley