Thank you for contacting me about the industrial action on pay and conditions for rail workers.

As a proud trade unionist, having worked in a union for over a decade before becoming an MP, I strongly believe train drivers and staff deserve a fair pay rise and respect. Employees have every right to fight for fair pay and I and my Opposition colleagues will always defend the right to strike and the rights of working people.

In July last year, the Government introduced regulations which lifted the ban on employers bringing in agency staff during strike action. This is utterly wrong, risking public safety, ripping up workers’ rights, and encouraging the very worst practices. I opposed these regulations in Parliament but they passed with Government support.

Now, Ministers are trying to bring in new anti-strike laws, through the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill. If passed, the Bill would allow the Government to impose requirements for minimum service levels during strikes in six sectors, including transport.

Working people are facing the largest fall in living standards in a generation, with bills skyrocketing and wages unable to keep up. We are also seeing severe staff shortages in rail, health and other sectors. It is in this context that the past few months have seen the largest strike disruption in decades, with rail workers, ambulance workers and nurses taking unprecedented industrial action.

Yet rather than seek to negotiate and find practical solutions to these issues, the Government is, in my view, simply seeking to distract attention from its own role in contributing to the current situation with a Bill that is unnecessary, unethical and unworkable.

It has also admitted that it has lost more money from train strikes than it would have cost to settle them. Its own impact assessment has shown that its anti-strike laws could increase strike days, disruption and staff shortages, and end up making things worse.

The right to strike is a fundamental one. Rather than forcing through legislation that could exacerbate disruption and undermine workers’ rights, the Government needs to show some responsibility, get around the table and start negotiating to find a deal.

Thank you once again for contacting me about this issue.

Image of a train
Image of a train
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