The UK’s largest rail union has fired a stark warning to the government over its plans to curb the effectiveness of strikes, telling Grant Shapps his plans would be met by industrial action from the entire trade union movement.
Shapps, the transport secretary, is threatening the transport unions with new laws that would make it legally compulsory for a minimum number of rail staff to still work during strikes.
It comes after a series of London Tube strikes have caused chaos in the capital this year, with more disruption expected throughout summer.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Any attempt by Grant Shapps to make effective strike action illegal on the railways will be met with the fiercest resistance from RMT and the wider trade union movement.”
A ballot of 40,000 Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union members will close tomorrow, with workers threatening a 12-hour strike over plans by Network Rail to cut 2,500 maintenance jobs.
The union is also furious with proposed pay rises that are under the UK’s expected levels of double-digit inflation.
Lynch has warned that, if approved by members tomorrow, that the rail strike will “bring the country to a standstill”.
Fellow transport union The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association has also threatened to coordinate with the RMT to create the UK’s largest strike action since the 1926 General Strike.
A government source told The Telegraph: “The unions have got to tread carefully. If they do call people out in massive prolonged strikes… they will do enormous damage to their members’ jobs. Rail is now a choice, not a necessity.”