Rail: Inquiry launched into anti-strike bill amid concerns about minimum service level proposal
The Commons’ transport select committee has launched an inquiry into how the controversial anti-strike bill will apply to the railway sector – with a focus on the demand for minimum service levels.
The legislation – which is having its second reading in the Lords on 21 February – will guarantee minimum service levels during strike days for fire, ambulance and railway services.
The committee’s chair Iain Stewart said it will not take a political or ideological stance on the bill itself, but will look into what it will practically entail.
This will mean inquiring on what minimum service levels mean for different companies and the impact it will have on timetables.
“These are just a few of the questions the transport committee will put to key organisations in the sector as we scrutinise this forthcoming legislation,” Stewart added.
To prepare for the inquiry, the committee has launched a call for evidence, asking all those involved to make written submissions by 9 March.
The extent of operators’ obligations to provide services during strike days and which lessons can be learned from other countries that have similar laws are among the questions asked by the committee members.
Hailed by government ministers, the bill has been condemned by trade unions as an attack on British civil liberties.
Aslef’s boss Mick Whelan previously said that the proposal spelt how the “Tory government has lost the argument with the people of Britain.”
While RMT’s general secretary Mick Lynch called on “trade unionists and democrats across the political spectrum” to come together and oppose the measures.
“This violation of democratic norms and values will be strongly opposed by the RMT and the entire labour movement, in Parliament, the courts and the workplace, if it is put on the statute books,” he said previously.
Since the national rail dispute broke out in June, 21 and 23 days were lost by Network Rail and by train operators respectively due to industrial action.