The TaxPayers' Alliance today calls on the Government to class London Underground workers as 'essential' and therefore ensure that minimum service is provided during strike action, similar to provisions currently in place for the Fire Service.
The United Nation's International Labour Office describes legislating for a "minimum service" provision for rail transport as "legitimate". This would involve a provision in law that any future tube strike could not bring the entire system to a standstill. Some cities already go further - indeed, both New York City and San Francisco bar transit workers from striking altogether - and the Government may also wish to consider this option if union leaders insist on further strikes, as they will if they win concessions during the current round of negotiations.
Ahead of the strike, Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
"The Tube is as essential a service as it gets, and Londoners deserve real protection from militant union leaders who think nothing of holding the capital to ransom. We have learnt from year after year of strikes that there is no satisfying the unions; every time the Mayor or the Government have given ground to the unions, it only inspires further industrial action.
"It is important to listen to workers' concerns and to ensure that conditions are acceptable, but the level of disruption caused to literally millions of people's lives and to the economy when union bosses decide to bring London to a standstill is unjustified. How is it fair that a nurse, on half the pay of a tube driver, is forbidden from striking but is unable to get to work because a union leader wants to curry favour with militant allies?
"The Government must at least introduce a "minimum service" element into legislation to ensure that London continues to function during periods of industrial action, and consult on the possibility of banning strikes on our transport network altogether. The UN's International Labour Office has set international standards which clearly state that minimum service obligations are justified in both rail and underground transport, and the Government should act on that recommendation."
TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)