PLANS to severely limit lawful strikes that would see workers treated as “galley slaves” are to be debated in Parliament tomorrow as a Tory MP accuses rail unions of “completely unreasonable” action.
Chris Philp will introduce the Industrial Action (Protection of Critical National Services) Bill under the 10-Minute Rule because he believes unions have “abused” their right to strike, especially on the failing Southern network.
The Croydon South MP claims the proposals have “enormous back-bench support,” with 50 of his Conservative colleagues signing a letter backing the plans.
However, a rail union accused the Tories of regarding workers as “galley slaves.”
A High Court judge would have to rule on whether industrial action could go ahead under the “outrageous” plans. Under the law, a skeleton rail service would take people to and from work.
An Aslef source said: “This proposal is clearly outrageous. We are not galley slaves.
“We are taking perfectly lawful strike action and have been given a huge mandate to do so from our membership.
“We are a member-led organisation. The Tories think the answer to that is to change the law and redefine the status of rail workers to prevent them from striking.”
Guards on Southern are starting a 24-hour strike this morning in a long-running dispute over safety.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Southern should be engaging with RMT in the same way that they have engaged with the TUC and the government in the drivers’ dispute.
“That is the way forward and the only way that we can deal with the safety issues that have led to the latest phase of strike action.”