Why have the Tories STILL not fulfilled the pledge to scupper strikes

Why have the Tories STILL not fulfilled their pledge to scupper strikes, asks ROSS CLARK

The Tories’ 2019 manifesto couldn’t have been clearer: ‘We will require that a minimum service operates during transport strikes. Rail workers deserve a fair deal, but it is not fair to let the trade unions undermine the livelihoods of others.’

So why, three years on from Boris Johnson’s spectacular victory and its 80‑seat majority, are the rail unions still being allowed to bring much of the network to a halt?

True, the Johnson government had other things on its mind – first Brexit and then Covid. But there has been plenty of time to enact legislation since then – and with such a large Conservative majority, Labour would have been unable to appease its union paymasters and block the move.

Liz Truss’s mayfly government did get around to tabling a bill – the Transport Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill – on October 20. This failed to define ‘minimum service’ levels, foolishly suggesting these could be determined through negotiation between employers and employees.

ROSS CLARK: ‘Earlier this month, Rishi Sunak seemed to confirm that the Government was going to impose minimum service levels on strike days on the railways – and suggested that the idea might be extended to other public services, too’

Furthermore, Truss resigned the same day the bill was tabled, and it has sat on the sidelines ever since.

Earlier this month, Rishi Sunak seemed to confirm that the Government was going to impose minimum service levels on strike days on the railways – and suggested that the idea might be extended to other public services, too.

Yet there has been no progress. Now Britain faces the prospect of ambulance drivers, nurses, driving instructors and many others bringing about a de facto general strike and holding the country to ransom, when the Tories’ own manifesto pledge could have prevented it.

Mrs Thatcher had the right idea. Under her predecessor as Conservative leader Edward Heath, she had witnessed the havoc that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had caused during the Three-Day Week in 1974 – when Britain suffered rolling blackouts owing to a shortage of coal reaching power stations.

ROSS CLARK: ‘Mrs Thatcher had the right idea. Under her predecessor as Conservative leader Edward Heath, she had witnessed the havoc that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had caused during the Three-Day Week in 1974’

Rather than repeat that misery, upon taking power in 1979, Thatcher ensured that coal was stockpiled around the country, and that non-unionised haulage firms would take it to power stations.

As a result, the lights never went out even though the NUM spent nearly an entire year on strike in 1984/85.

If Thatcher had been confronted by the far-Left gargoyle Mick Lynch and his Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, it isn’t hard to imagine what she would have done.

She would have passed a bill preventing damaging strikes. She would have ensured there was a fleet of coaches ready to be deployed if the rail companies failed to provide an adequate service.

ROSS CLARK: ‘Militancy from the railway unions has been a problem for years as ever more ridiculous levels of pay have been wrung out of heavily subsidised rail companies, and any reform to working practices resisted. It was obvious the union barons going to try their luck again’

And she would have made sure that the rail industry was well on the way to switching many trains to automated driverless operation – like more than 100 metro systems around the world.

Sadly, the Iron Lady is no longer with us. Instead, successive Tory governments have been asleep on the job.

Militancy from the railway unions has been a problem for years as ever more ridiculous levels of pay have been wrung out of heavily subsidised rail companies, and any reform to working practices resisted. It was obvious the union barons going to try their luck again.

Ministers’ serial failure to deal with the problem means that Britain now faces a second Winter of Discontent. And the worst part? Our leaders have only themselves to blame.

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