|Transport Unions Face Strike Ban|
Planned changes in legislation could make walkouts illegal
The ongoing dispute with Transport for London (TfL) will take a back seat this week as members of various transport unions lobby Parliament in an attempt to persuade MPs to back the Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Private Members Bill, lodged by RMT Parliamentary Group convenor, John McDonnell MP.
The Bill was lodged in response to Mayor of London Boris Johnson's suggestion for a change the law so that strikes could only take place if over 50% of the workforce had voted in the ballot.
According to Government figures only 33% of tube workers voted in favour of the last two strikes. With two further walkouts planned for November 2-3 and November 28-29 Johnson's fellow Conservatives are calling for action from the Mayor.
MP Michael Fallon implied no legal changes were needed and Boris could just get on with it. According to the Conservative website, Fallon said: "Let's see Boris's backbone. He needs to break this strike. He should not cave in. He should recruit a reserve army of Tube drivers to replace the strikers. President Ronald Reagan did that to beat a strike by air traffic controllers. Boris should do it here. He should also ensure the strikers' pay is docked for good, not quietly paid back afterward to keep the peace."
The Government could introduce a ban on strikes in essential public services to include transport and fire brigade.
Predictably the unions are not happy. RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said, “We know that there has been a new push from the bosses organisations, the Mayor of London and other Tory politicians since the election to try and get the Government to load the law on industrial action even further in their favour.
“With the cuts battle set to intensify this autumn there is no doubt that the Government and the employers will see the anti-union laws as an important weapon in trying to choke off workplace resistance to attacks on jobs and services."
He added: “Now is the time for the trade union movement to rally round and defend the basic right to strike and the right to defend jobs, standards of living and public services. John McDonnell’s Private Members Bill is the focal point for the union fight back against the anti-union laws.”