Croydon MP launches bid to ban “unreasonable” Southern Rail strikes

Mark Sands
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South Coast Commuters Travel In To London On The Second Three-Day Southern Rail Strike
Canada already has provisions protecting a 50 per cent service during strikes (Source: Getty)

Southern Rail workers could be banned from launching strikes deemed to be "unreasonable" or "disproportionate" under new plans being introduced in parliament tomorrow by Croydon South MP Chris Philp.

Philp will argue for restrictions on the ability for public sector workers to strike in the House of Commons tomorrow afternoon, in particular citing disruption caused by the ongoing dispute between railworkers union RMT and the government.

"What we have seen in the last few months is a few hundred trade unionists preventing 300,000 people from getting to work on 40 official strike days," Philp told City A.M..

Read More: Here is the latest on Monday's Southern rail strike

"Clearly no one is denying the right to strike, but in allowing particular strikes you need to look at the impact on the public," he added, noting that recent action by NHS workers, and on Transport for London, would also fall under his plans.

Philp's plans would require the approval of the high court before strikes in these sectors can go ahead.

Judges would be expected to weigh whether industrial action is either reasonable, or proportionate, including "what it is the striking workers are complaining about and the impact on the public," Philp said.

Read More: People are leaving floral tributes to Southern rail at train stations

Ten minute rule bills can be introduced by backbenchers before MPs decide on whether or not they proceed to a first reading – the first formal stage of legislation.

It comes after Philp laid out his plans in a meeting with transport secretary Chris Grayling in December.

An RMT spokesman declined to comment.

Three changes to legislation for industrial action on critical public infrastructure:

  1. 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
  2. It should be mandatory to attend mediation at conciliation service Acas when a strike has been called or is ongoing
  3. There should be a legal requirement for strikes on critical public infrastructure to be reasonable and proportionate

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