Kent transport

Temporary workers could replace strikers

The government is considering legal changes to allow agency workers to replace striking staff, in a bid to protect the public from disruption. It is understood Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has not ruled out the option as travelers face chaos on London’s railways and Underground due to widespread industrial action.

The move would involve overturning a restriction preventing employers from taking on agency workers to cover striking staff, and would apply to all sectors, according to The Telegraph. This was promised in the Tory manifesto in 2015, which stated: “We will… repeal absurd restrictions prohibiting employers from hiring agency staff to provide essential cover during strikes.

Mr Shapps told the newspaper that any legal intervention would not affect ‘this particular round of strikes’ in June, but if the action continued then ‘certainly further action will take place during this particular dispute, if it does not cannot be resolved”. He added: “I will say more about that, but we will look at all the necessary modernizations.

“The country must not continue to be held to ransom. These strikes are incredibly premature and we will use all possible levers to ensure the protection of the public in the future in particular.

“I can’t stress enough how determined we are to get the right outcome for the traveling public in the end, even if the unions insist on causing the country considerable suffering in the meantime.”

Mr Shapps told the Sunday Telegraph in May that ministers were considering drafting laws which would make industrial action illegal unless a certain number of employees were working. The interview sparked anger in the labor movement, with some officials saying it had made the atmosphere worse at such a crucial time for the railways.

In his latest interview with the newspaper, Mr Shapps claimed workers were being misled in some cases by ‘Marxists’ who are ‘determined to turn this into some kind of fight, as they see it, with a Tory government “. “When you look at the people who work on the railroads, a lot of them have done a phenomenal job,” he said.

“They are led by union barons, in some very extreme cases Marxists, who are determined to turn this into some sort of fight, they say, with a Conservative government. The union bosses basically said to their members, you haven’t had a raise for two years, this strike is about wages. What they haven’t told their members is that…the wage freeze is over, so they’ve been told to strike under false pretences.

Train drivers are to strike over wages and more railway workers are to vote for industrial action amid growing disputes in the industry. These threaten huge travel disruptions in the coming weeks.

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