More commuter misery in fresh rail strikes as Mick Lynch compares Government to repressive China on LBC

4 January 2023, 19:19

More rail strikes are on the way after Mick Lynch compared the Government's anti-strike plans to China
More rail strikes are on the way after Mick Lynch compared the Government's anti-strike plans to China. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Will Taylor

A fresh wave of rail strikes will throw commuters into travel hell on Thursday as Mick Lynch portrayed the Government's anti-industrial action laws to repression in China and Russia.

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Train drivers at 15 operators will walk out, as workers from the Aslef union take actio.

Bus drivers are on strike, affecting mostly routes in the south and west of London, and driving examiners are taking action across the south of England and Wales, impacting practical exams.

The government is looking to bring in new laws that would force rail workers to ensure there is a minimum level of service, with Mr Lynch - the head of the RMT union - wants to stop.

"Basically you’re talking about the conscription of labour even during a lawful dispute, and I would have to name my members that went to work to break their own picket lines," Mr Lynch told LBC's James O'Brien.

"And that’s unacceptable in a free society.

"We're always being told that repressive regimes do things against the public. And of course the mark of what went on in Poland, and what goes on in China, and probably Russia and other repressive regimes, is that the trade unions aren’t free."

Read more: Back to work hit by strikes: Commuters face days of travel chaos with fresh walkouts on Tuesday

Read more: Deal to halt rail strikes 'within touching distance' but unions told 'no bottomless pit of cash' ahead of more walkouts

RMT's Mick Lynch accuses the government of trying to 'conscript' worker with anti-strike legislation

Which train routes are affected?

  • Avanti West Coast
  • Chiltern Railways
  • CrossCountry
  • East Midlands Railway
  • Great Western Railway
  • Greater Anglia
  • Great Northern/Thameslink
  • London North Eastern Railway
  • Northern Trains
  • Southeastern
  • Southern/Gatwick Express
  • South Western Railway
  • SWR Island Line
  • TransPennine Express
  • West Midlands Trains

The Government's plans have been drawn up after strikes on the railways, among nurses, ambulance workers, postal workers, and other industries - grinding Britain's transport, hospitals and mail almost to a complete halt.

RMT members working for railway operators and Network Rail planned four days of action this week this week, on top of Aslef's action.

Mr Lynch said unions and employers would have to agree which of their coworkers joining them in striking would instead need to go into work to sort the minimum level of service.

Failure to do so could see them fall foul of the law, with Mr Lynch saying such a move would hamper trade unions' ability to "fight poverty".

Rail workers are striking over a pay and conditions dispute
Rail workers are striking over a pay and conditions dispute. Picture: Getty

"We want the ability to do that - what we;re going to do is join up with the other unions as you'd expect, to campaign against that in parliament… we're hoping the Labour Party will oppose these things," he said.

Mr Lynch described the right to strike as "a fundamental human right".

"If you're not able to do that, the employer and the government can dictate to you what you do as a previously free individual, and that's not acceptable," he added.

"I think all democrats and people of good will should be opposed to the trade unions being corralled in this way."

Mick Lynch on the picket line at Euston on Tuesday
Mick Lynch on the picket line at Euston on Tuesday. Picture: Getty

With fears growing of a general strike, the RMT boss said the unions "would be daft if they didn’t try to synchronise their action".

"I don't think we'll get a general strike as we understood it in 1926. It's very difficult to synchronise that and stay within the law," he admitted, saying there had not been any coordination between the RMT's action this week and Aslef's planned walkouts.

Mick Lynch with striking workers this week
Mick Lynch with striking workers this week. Picture: Getty

The boss of one of the train companies whose workers are striking said that operators and unions would have to come to an agreement.

Southeastern managing director Steve White said on social media: "We all share the frustration that the industry-wide talks with the trades unions have, to date, made limited progress and that Southeastern talks have so far been impossible.

"This has to change and sooner, rather than later. This is our most important priority for the New Year because the year ahead is an important one for rail.

"We need to quickly find a peace that all parties can live with and we need to come together again with a relentless focus on our customers, who can never be taken for granted."

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