Government to consider legislation to make train strikes illegal amid Southern rail walkout, Chris Grayling says

Transport Secretary tells BBC he will 'have a careful look' at the possibility of new legislation following the rail worker's action this week

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Chris Grayling has said he will "have a careful look" at the possibility of legislation to prevent strikes on the railways, at the beginning of three days of strike action that will inflict chaos on the Southern Rail route between London and the south.

Labelling the industrial action "pointless", the Transport Secretary told the BBC's Today Programme: "I don’t have the power to step in and order people back to work.

"It is, unfortunately, a lawful strike."

Asked whether he would introduce new laws to make the strike illegal, Mr Grayling said: "I can’t change the legislation between now and tomorrow. There’ll be a lot of things we’ll have to take a careful look at.

"There’s issues on this line that go beyond just the issue of these strikes. I’m not happy with the performance of the railway generally."

Earlier, Mick Whelan, Secretary General of Aslef, the union for train drivers and operators agreed that the strikes were not about pay or jobs, but about "safety." 

At the heart of the dispute is whose job it is to open and close doors in train stations, the driver or a guard.

Mr Whelan said that drivers opening the doors, "given two seconds to look at 24 different grainy images," compromised safety.

The system under which drivers open doors has been ruled safe by the independent rail safety operator and has been in use on many lines in the UK, including those operated by Aslef members.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said he would ‘have a careful look’ at the possibility of legislating to prevent strikes on the railways, at the beginning of three days of ‘pointless’ strike action that will inflict chaos on the Southern Rail route between London and the south.

He told the Today Programme: “I don’t have the power to step in and order people back to work. It is, unfortunately, a lawful strike.”

Asked whether he would introduce new laws to make the strike illegal, Mr Grayling said: “I can’t change the legislation between now and tomorrow. There’ll be a lot of things we’ll have to take a careful look at. There’s issues on this line that go beyond just the issue of these strikes. I’m not happy with the performance of the railway generally.”

Earlier, Mick Whelan, Secretary General of Aslef, the union for train drivers and operators agreed that the strikes were not about pay or jobs, but about ‘safety.’ 

At the heart of the dispute is whose job it is to open and close doors in train stations, the driver or a guard. Mr Whelan said that drivers opening the doors, ‘Given two seconds to look at 24 different grainy images’ compromised safety. The system under which drivers open doors has been ruled safe by the independent rail safety operator and has been in use on many lines in the UK, including those operated by Aslef members.

Comments