Truss pledges to stop 'militant action' from trade unions 'paralysing' the economy

25 July 2022, 22:54

Liz Truss has announced a series of measures aimed at preventing trade unions from causing disruption
Liz Truss has announced a series of measures aimed at preventing trade unions from causing disruption. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Liz Truss has pledged to do "everything in her power" to ensure "militant action" from trade unions can no longer "paralyse" the economy if she wins the Tory leadership contest.

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The Tory leadership frontrunner announced a series of measures aimed at preventing trade unions from causing disruption across rail networks as well as other national services.

It came after yet another union announced on Monday that it would be joining strikes across seven train operating companies on August 18 and 20 in a dispute over pay, job security and conditions.

If she becomes PM at the beginning of September, Ms Truss said her government would introduce legislation in the first 30 days of Parliament to guarantee a minimum level of service on vital national infrastructure.

Tailored minimum thresholds, including staffing levels, would be determined with each industry.

She would also ensure strike action has significant support from union members by raising the minimum threshold for voting in favour of strike action from 40 to 50 per cent.

The minimum notice period for strike action would be raised from two weeks to four weeks, and a cooling-off period would be implemented so that unions can no longer strike as many times as they like in the six-month period after a ballot.

Ms Truss' rival - Rishi Sunak - has also said that he would crack down on unions if he wins the leadership competition, stating that he will stop "unions holding working people to ransom".

Fresh strikes are set to halt rail services on Wednesday in the latest action from unions, with thousands of workers expected to be involved.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 14 train operators will walk out, crippling services across the UK.

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Months of rail strikes are 'likely to happen'

Ms Truss claims she would also put an end to members receiving tax-free payments from trade unions on the days they are on strike.

She said: "We need tough and decisive action to limit trade unions' ability to paralyse our economy.

"I will do everything in my power to make sure that militant action from trade unions can no longer cripple the vital services that hard-working people rely on."

A campaign spokesperson said: "Liz is determined to stand up for people who work hard and do the right thing.

"For too long, trade unionists have been able to hold the country to ransom with threat of industrial action.

"The steps she has announced today will finally allow the government to take back control from trade union barons and deliver the economic growth we need to put money back in hard-working families' pockets."

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak has called on Labour to stand up against trade unions, insisting "unions cannot dictate how the British people go about their daily life".

In response to fresh rail strikes being confirmed, Mr Sunak said: "These irresponsible strikes will cause hardship for millions of ordinary workers across the country.

"Keir Starmer and the Labour Party should stand up to their union paymasters instead of joining them on the picket line.

"The Labour Party are on the side of the strikers - the Conservatives are on the side of the strivers.

"We need to urgently deliver our 2019 Manifesto commitment to require minimum service levels during transport strikes.

"As Prime Minister, I will stop the unions holding working people to ransom.

"I will do whatever it takes to make sure that unions cannot dictate how the British people go about their daily life."

Lynch: Public support striking rail workers

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: "Liz Truss is looking to blame anyone and everyone else other than herself for the mess the Conservatives have made of the last 12 years.

"Her latest Tory fantasy is dangerously out of touch with reality and ignores the stubborn fact that she has sat around the Cabinet table for nearly a decade of pitifully low wage growth, crumbling public services and sleaze at the heart of Government.

"As we saw with the Government's plans to break strikes with agency workers, these plans are unworkable, will only erode working people's rights further and inflame industrial relations at a critical time."

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "The proposals by Liz Truss amount to the biggest attack on trade union and civil rights since labour unions were legalised in 1871.

"Truss is proposing to make effective trade unionism illegal in Britain and to rob working people of a key democratic right.

"If these proposals become law, there will be the biggest resistance mounted by the entire trade union movement, rivalling the General Strike of 1926, the Suffragettes and Chartism."