Strike action proposals 'protect people's right to get to work'

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Proposals to limit strike action and protect people's "right to get to work" are set for their first test in the Commons.

Tory MP Chris Philp said trade unions had "abused" their right to strike by undertaking "completely unreasonable" industrial action as part of an ongoing dispute with Southern Railway.

As a result, he has brought forward draft laws which would require all industrial action on critical national services to be proportionate and reasonable in order to be deemed legal.

The measures would also require a skeleton service to run on strike days to ensure people can still get to and from work.

Mr Philp told the Press Association: "A High Court judge would weigh up what it is the strikers are striking over on the one hand versus the impact on the public on the other to make sure it is reasonable and proportionate.

"All it is looking to do is it recognises the right to strike, but it just says that the general public also have a right to get to work and to get home to see their loved ones.

"What I want to see is a balance between those two rights.

"At the moment, for example on the Southern Railway strike, we have lost that balance.

"The dispute is over who presses a button to open and close the door yet the strikes are stopping 300,000 people getting to work so that's not reasonable and it's not proportionate, it's not balanced."

Mr Philp will introduce his proposed Industrial Action (Protection of Critical National Services) Bill on Tuesday using the 10 minute rule motion device which allows MPs to propose their own laws.

The Croydon South MP said his proposals had "enormous backbench support" with 50 of his colleagues having signed a letter backing the plans.

He also believes the Government is considering the push "very carefully" and that the "behaviour of trade unions will in part determine how this story evolves".

He said: "What we have seen in the last few months is completely unreasonable, completely disproportionate, yet no one is losing their job, no one is getting a pay cut.

"The rail regulator says there is no safety issue and yet for a period of months 300,000 people have been prevented getting to work.

"Clearly the trade unions in this example have abused the power they have with strikes and I just want to have some kind of level of reasonableness and proportionality introduced."

He added: "I think even in the trade union movement, the wider trade union movement, they might recognise that actually what the RMT and Aslef have been doing on Southern is actually damaging the trade union movement as a whole because they have pushed it too far."

Mr Philp believes his plan has "good prospects" of eventually becoming law and he is not anticipating anyone opposing it on the floor of the House on Tuesday.

"I would be astonished if anyone stood up and said that they supported strikes that were unreasonable and disproportionate," he said.