'Govt considering strike ban for essential services', Business Minister says

20 June 2022, 19:30 | Updated: 20 June 2022, 21:43

By Megan Hinton

The Business Minister has suggested the Government could be considering a strike ban for staff in essential services including the transport sector, ahead of the biggest national rail walkout in 30 years.

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Paul Scully hinted that the government could be looking at a minimum service level for the transport sector adding that the RMT Union's strike is "in no way acceptable".

Speaking on LBC's Tonight With Andrew Marr, the Government Minister said: "Look I think there should be a mixture of actions available to workers but in this instance there's no way it's acceptable it should always be used as a very very last resort rather than a first resort and it seems way too early in the process her to be going on strike rather than talking.

"What we're seeing with the disruption that is going to be cause tomorrow is that it's way too early on in the process.

"You've heard Mick lynch addressing a group of people at a protest talking about a class war you have heard people pushing it back on the fact that ‘oh the conservatives and Boris Johnson want to see the strike’, in no way 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 fail

Map showing the open lines (purple) on June 21, 23 and 25. Not all stations will be served, and service levels will be significantly reduced on open lines, from 7.30am to 6.30pm only.
Map showing the open lines (purple) on June 21, 23 and 25. Not all stations will be served, and service levels will be significantly reduced on open lines, from 7.30am to 6.30pm only. Picture: NetworkRail

"I'm also the Minister for London and we have a really fragile recovery in London and elsewhere trying to get people back into back into their workplaces trying to get students to be able to do 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 damage that confidence and that's why we want the unions to get back to the table."

When grilled by Andrew on whether or not he supported Tory MP's suggesting a ban on striking in essential services, he replied: "Well in terms of essential services I think that is worth looking at.

"I think that in essential services what we will look at in good time is minimum service levels in certain circumstances including in essential travel services."

Mr Scully refuted the idea of a complete ban on travel strikes continuing: "I think in terms of how that actually works that is for us to set out in detail later on but essentially there are ways that workers can show their dissatisfaction with their employers without bringing the whole service to a halt."

Instead the minister suggested "restricting work" and causing "disruption" to rail services instead of bringing the network to a halt.

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

To which Andrew quipped: "So the proposal seems to be that you may be able to go and strike in the future but as long as it is an ineffective strike and it makes people think that the rail service is as rubbish as usual."

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

The RMT Union's says last-ditch talks with the Government failed to resolve a row over pay, jobs and conditions.

General secretary Mick Lynch accused the Government of "actively preventing" a settlement and said the union found proposals put to it to be "unacceptable".

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

Downing Street has warned it will be "extremely difficult" commuting during the rail strikes as more than 50% of the rail network will be shut.

It said it was "deeply disappointing" that the strikes are going ahead, arguing that they will not resolve the issues faced on the railways.

RMT staff will be walking out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday but there will be a reduced service for the entire week, with passengers urged to only travel via train if absolutely necessary.

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

If you're travelling to or from places with no services - such as Bournemouth, Swansea, Holyhead and Chester - you won't be able to get a train and you should find alternative ways of travelling.

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

Passengers who must travel are urged to plan ahead to ensure that they can complete their journeys within the window, with last services from London to Scotland, for example, leaving in the early afternoon.