November 23, 2019

Conservatives to guarantee minimum service during rail strikes to end misery for passengers

A Conservative majority government will stop railways grinding to a halt by ensuring that a minimum train service must operate during strikes.

This comes less than 24 hours after Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell confirmed that it is Labour Party policy to bring back secondary picketing which would allow ‘sympathy strikes’ and a dramatic increase in disruption on our railways.

For too long, militant rail unions have caused misery for passengers up and down the country. Since 2016, more than 160 days of strikes have taken place, or are planned, hitting 11 out of the country’s 17 rail franchises, plus London’s Underground.

One of the country’s busiest commuter networks, South Western Railway, will strike for almost the entire month of December.

The Conservatives believe we need a new balance between rail workers’ right to strike and other workers’ right to go to work.

A Conservative majority government would:

  • Legislate to oblige rail employers and unions to enter into Minimum Service Agreements.
  • MSAs would set in advance the number and nature of staff who would remain at work during any strike. In the absence of an MSA, strike action would not be lawful.
  • This means that there would never be a situation where there are no trains running, even during industrial action.
  • Similar provisions exist in many European countries, including Spain, France, Italy and Belgium. The minimum service level varies between a fifth and a third of normal service.

Commenting, Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, said:

“Rail strikes have a real impact on people’s lives. They seriously inconvenience businesses and the public, damage the economy, and force people to use less sustainable means of transport.
“Corbyn’s union backers are causing misery for commuters across the country but this is just a taste of things to come if he gets into Downing Street. He would scrap trade union legislation and make it easier for unions to go on strike which would cause chaos for passengers.
“The Conservative Party will introduce a new law to ensure that the railways keep on running even if trade unions vote to go on strike. Only the Conservatives can get Brexit done, improve our public services, and stop passengers being held hostage by Corbyn’s Labour and the Unions."
Region Labour's Pension Tax (£) Extra Months to Work
England 11,167 44
East Midlands 6,150 50
Greater London 12,871 45
North East 9,758 38
North West 6,835 47
South East 14,270 40
South West 7,407 45
West Midlands 10,729 41
Northern Ireland 13,718 35
Scotland 10,653 41
Wales 11,691 36
United Kingdom 11,253 43

Commenting, Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, said:

“Corbyn’s Pension Tax will see ten million savers facing a huge bill forcing them to delay their retirement for almost three and a half years.
“This is just one of the ways a Corbyn government would hammer hardworking people on top of his plans to hike up taxes by £2,400 a year, as well as the cost of his plan for unlimited immigration and the chaos of 2020 being dominated by two more referendums – one on Brexit and another on Scottish independence.
“Only Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party can get Brexit done with a deal, get parliament working again and turbocharge our economy to unleash Britain’s potential.”

Read more about how this Pension Tax will impact millions of savers (PDF)