Explainer-in-brief: what difference would agency workers make in the rail strikes?
The biggest rail strikes in thirty years kick off this week. The government has been unable to conduct successful negotiations with the rail union RMT and is now scrambling to look like it’s doing something.
Last week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested agency workers might be brought in to replace rail staff during the strikes.
To do this, Shapps would effectively have to bring in new legislation. This option would, on paper, allow the government to extensively curtail the impact of strikes, already limited by remote working. Unions have come out against it arguing it would undermine the right to withdraw labour to protest.
For specialised sectors especially, there has been an outcry. Agency workers could not fill train drivers or nurses, for example. But if implemented for strikes in all sectors, it could keep us running – by cutting out union’s knees from under them.