Boris Johnson strips rail union barons of power in law hailed by long-suffering commuters

The Prime Minister today used the Queen’s Speech, followed by his own in the House of Commons, to unveil a masterplan to make it illegal to bring train services to a complete standstill. A jubilant Prime Minister said his plan will see measures put into law to ensure “minimum service levels” are maintained during rail strikes in a plan hailed by commuters. Both South Western Railway (SWR) and Southern have been crippled by union members’ decision to strike, causing agony for commuters.

Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) members gathered outside Parliament to protest the moment Mr Johnson made the announcement.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “This is a draconian measure which amounts to an attempt to ban transport workers from going on strike.

“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.”

Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said: “This is straight forward union bashing from an anti-worker Tory Government which will always back the bosses over workers.”

But businesses hailed Mr Johnson for intervening.

Sean McKee of the London Chamber of Commerce, said: “London’s businesses recognise the right to strike, but want to see that right better balanced so it doesn’t bring a halt to the capital’s essential rail network.

“Nearly three quarters of London businesses polled back a minimum service guarantee during times of strike.

“Those businesses will provisionally welcome the steps taken by the Government today.”

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The unprecedented action has seen 850 services cancelled every day on SWR, which runs 1,850 trains each day across London, Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon, with London Waterloo - the country’s busiest railway station - heavily impacted.

Passengers have been warned services will be cancelled, replaced by buses or finish earlier than normal, with trains running expected to be a lot busier than normal.

The RMT amassed a £42million war chest to finance the 800 train guards taking part in the walkout, which is being held over the threat of driver-only trains.

SWR confirmed they have no intention of getting rid of the guards - a row that caused two years of strikes on Southern rail services - but RMT have demanded they commit to this for the foreseeable future.

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