Transport secretary Chris Grayling has been mulling over a range of measures to stop the Southern rail crisis being repeated in the future.
And Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South, thinks he just might have the answer. Or at least part of it. The MP has laid out proposals for three major changes to legislation he thinks are necessary to help prevent repeats in the future. He flagged the proposal to Grayling in a recent meeting.
Philp said: "People are unable to get to work, families are being torn apart and people are losing their jobs." He said train drivers' union Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union were "abusing the powers they enjoy as trade unions to call strikes".
He wants the government to introduce emergency legislation to "prevent unreasonable strike action", while preserving the right of workers to strike when faced with "genuine injustice".
In relation to industrial action on critical public infrastructure - rail, Tube, trams, fire service, ambulance, Philp has three changes he feels will help.
Three changes to legislation for industrial action on critical public infrastructure:
- When a strike occurs on critical public infrastructure, it should be such that at least a 50 per cent service is maintained - Canada has similar provisions
- It should be mandatory to attend mediation at conciliation service Acas when a strike has been called or is ongoing
- There should be a legal requirement for strikes on critical public infrastructure to be reasonable and proportionate
The last point, Philp says, would mean that the injury suffered by service users is "reasonable and proportionate" when balanced against the complaint of the striking workers. This balance would be adjudicated by the High Court and case law would develop.
In the case of the current Southern strikes, Philp feels this would fail to meet the test as the action is preventing hundreds of thousands from getting to work "simply over who presses the door opening button" which isn't reasonable or proportionate.
RMT's general secretary Mick Cash said the 48-hour walkout that started yesterday is over "a fight for safe train operation" and that RMT drivers "are standing shoulder to shoulder with their Aslef colleagues".