Rail strike chaos this weekend is ‘holding the country to ransom’, says Grant Shapps

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In the latest round of strikes led by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) Union, National Rail, TFL (Transport for London) and several other train firms will be hit by the action. Commuters are set to face severe disruption from Thursday morning along with those hoping to get to Gatwick via the Gatwick Express or those taking the Thameslink.

The three-day strike is a continuation of the strikes previously seen this summer over pay, jobs and working conditions.

However, according to Grant Shapps, the Unions are not protesting this at all, instead they are defending what he calls outdated methods of working and therefore blocking progress and growth.

The Transport Secretary tweeted: “It cannot be right for the country to be held to ransom by Union bosses seeking to protect outdated work practices that have no place in the 21st century.

“Here is my 16-point plan to rebalance industrial relations in favour of the public.”

In his 16-point plan, Mr Shapps likens his thoughts on the strikes to those of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who he uses as a role model in tackling these issues.

Writing in MailPlus, Mr Shapps said that the lives of the public will be “disrupted to protect the prehistoric and defend the indefensible”.

According to the Transport Secretary, “rail workers aren’t striking because they’re hard up” he noted that the average salary is £44,000 and that workers have been offered a pay increase which some have accepted.

He added that the Government has assured the Unions that there will be no compulsory redundancies.

READ MORE:  Grant Shapps: ‘I will take on the unions crippling this country’

He continued: “[Instead] they, or their unions are striking to stop reform: to carry on doing their jobs exactly as they did 30 years ago, in a world not just before Covid but before technological change.

“Reform means inspecting the track using drones, electronic monitoring, and sensors on trains – cheaper and safer than making people walk along the live railway, and better at spotting dangerous faults.”

In order to tackle the loss of money for the railways which has come following Covid, the Government is focusing on increasing the quality of public services and upping wages, however the key to achieving this, according to Mr Shapps, is through economic growth.

This growth will be driven by reforming outdated practices and inefficient working methods which Mr Shapps says the Unions are defending.

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He said: “Margaret Thatcher knew Luddite trade unions were a barrier to that reform. She delivered prosperity by taking them on – and so will we.”

Chairman of RMT, Mick Lynch spoke at the Enough is Enough campaign launch on Wednesday, a campaign tackling the cost of living crisis.

Mr Lynch said ahead of Thursday’s strikes that the Union will “fight as long as it takes” as he accused the Government of trying to “crush the RMT and other workers’ resolve”.

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