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20 December: news in brief

Union protests at proposed ‘draconian’ rail strike law

PLANS to legally restrict the extent of rail strikes, requiring a minimum level of service, are being opposed by a rail union. The law was mentioned in the Queen’s Speech, as expected, and would require a ‘minimum service agreement’. If this is breached, unions could be liable for possibly heavy damages that could bankrupt them in the most extreme cases. The government said the aim was to reduce disruption, while preserving the right of workers to take industrial action. The RMT has dubbed it ‘a draconian measure which amounts to an attempt to ban transport workers from going on strike’. The union’s general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Taking industrial action is a basic human right and denying workers the ability to withdraw their labour has been the hallmark of hard right, authoritarian regimes.’ An RMT spokesman added that the law would ‘effectively ban all-out strikes. They will drag our workers with chains if needs be.’ The government said: ‘We will consult on how best to implement this in a proportionate way, including ensuring that sanctions are not directed at individual workers, and how this would interact with wider industrial relations.’

Floods block Brighton Main Line

PASSENGERS are being advised to avoid the Brighton Main Line south of Gatwick Airport, after heavy rain in Sussex. There are floods in the Balcombe area, and no trains are runninig between Haywards Heath and Three Bridges. Southern is trying to provide a service between Brighton and Haywards Heath.

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