Travelers are in dispute over strike laws following the announcement that fifteen rail companies across the UK will strike on the 5th of January.
RMT, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and transport workers, have released their statement following a period of walkouts across a number of working industries. The industries most affected by strikes include nursing, postal and rail.
What are the UK’s industrial strike laws?
In the UK, there is no law that outlines employees do not have the legal right to strike.
According to the UK Government’s official website, all employees have the right to take part in industrial action, and can not be legally forced to stay at work.
However, details do suggest employers have a right to not pay staff for the days they do strike. Employers can also take this further, with some in a minority of cases choosing to sue employees that stage walkouts.
Why workers are striking
“This latest round of strikes will show how important our members are to the running of this country”
– Mike Lynch, RMT’s General Secretary speaks on the latest period of industrial action.
In late November, 48 hour strikes for the Christmas and New year period were announced by RMT.
On RMT’s website, Mike Lynch, RMT’s General Secretary comments on the continued periods of industrial action: “This latest round of strikes will show how important our members are to the running of this country. We have been reasonable, but it is impossible to find a negotiated settlement when the dead hand of the government is presiding over these talks”.
How have commuters been affected by industrial action
Whilst delays and cancellations continue to disrupt commuters plans, many have expressed their support.
Holly Heart, who commutes from Liverpool to Warrington for work, has been affected by the walkouts. Speaking to Law News, she added: “Whilst I do think its not clear what the laws for industrial action are, it is clear that we need to pay rail workers a better wage for the hard work they do. I think for a long time the economics of society have oppressed working class people, and I believe its time to stand up for RMT’s rights.”
The UK Government’s response
In response, the Government announced new plans to keep Britain moving during periods of Industrial Action. The Transport Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill means, even during disruption, a certain level of services will still run.
This action aims to protect commuters travel routes and emergency services, ensuring vulnerable individuals that require immediate medical treatment receive it.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, ex Secretary of State for Transport added: “Strikes have affected nearly all of us over this last year. It is vital that public transport users have some continuity of service to keep Britain moving and growing – this legislation will give everyone the certainty they need to carry on with their daily lives”