The Government has introduced the Transport Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, which would ensure minimum levels of service on transport. The
bill would stop the complete shutdown of services including rail, tubes and buses.
Inclusion of buses is something of a surprise and is understood to have been a late decision although operators have in general welcomed it.
The bill – which was among former prime minister Liz Truss’s pledges, and introduced prior to her resignation after just six weeks in office – seeks to “balance the right to strike with ensuring commuters can get to their place of work and people can continue to make vital journeys to access education and healthcare during strikes”.
Under the changes, employers and trade unions would negotiate and reach agreement between themselves on minimum service levels referred to as minimum service agreements (MSAs), provide for circumstances in which the MSA can be changed and include enforcement arrangements to ensure parties follow due process in their negotiations.
The bill also provides for an “independent determination process” should employers and unions fail to reach agreement on an appropriate minimum service level after three months.
It would give the transport secretary the power to set interim minimum service levels by regulations, which would apply where neither an MSA has been agreed nor an independent determination reached.
Under the bill there would also have to be a minimum three-month gap between these regulations being made and their coming into force. The specific details of how minimum service levels would apply to transport services will be set out in secondary legislation following appropriate consultation, said the Government.
The provisions of the bill would extend and apply to England, Wales and Scotland.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “This cynical piece of legislation outlaws effective legal industrial action on our railways. All democrats whether inside or outside parliament must oppose this draconian attempt to clamp down on the fundamental human right to strike.
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