Let staff vote on pay deals, Grant Shapps tells union bosses: Londoners suffered another 24-hour walkout by Tube staff yesterday and 45,000 rail workers are striking today

  • Said that modernising changes will be imposed on unions if strike not settled 
  • Added that this would to end the ‘abuse’ of passengers needing to travel 
  • Sadiq Khan hit back at the comments and accused Shapps of provoking strikes 

Grant Shapps told striking union barons yesterday to ‘get out of the way’ and allow workers to vote on pay deals.

Londoners suffered another 24-hour walkout by Tube staff yesterday as 45,000 rail workers prepared to go on strike today, when just one in five services will run across Britain.

The Transport Secretary said if the dispute cannot be settled, modernising changes will be imposed on unions to end the ‘abuse’ of passengers.

He said: ‘If you [the union] are not prepared to put that deal to your membership, we will never know whether members would accept it.’ He said that if unions do not put pay offers to members, the Government could move to use ‘section 188’ legislation to force through some measures.

He added: ‘If we can’t get those modernisations in place, we will have to impose them. But we would much rather do it through these offers actually being put to their members… this is about preventing people who do perhaps want to go to work – and after all that is their free right, that is their freedom – from being abused.’

The Transport Secretary said if the dispute cannot be settled, modernising changes will be imposed on unions to end the ‘abuse’ of passengers

London Mayor Sadiq Khan hit back at the comments, accusing Mr Shapps of ‘deliberately provoking’ strikes to force through new anti-union laws. Pictured: People queue for buses yesterday at Liverpool Street station

London Mayor Sadiq Khan hit back at the comments, accusing Mr Shapps of ‘deliberately provoking’ strikes to force through new anti-union laws. 

And the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said the threat ‘effectively amounted to firing and re-hiring staff on worse conditions’.

The stand-off came as TSSA union boss Manuel Cortes threatened to walk out at Christmas, ruining the plans of millions of families and hurting businesses during their busy period. The economy has already taken a hit of about £200million due to the strikes, says the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

Striking unions want pay rises for staff in line with inflation, with the RMT rejecting an offer from Network Rail of an 8 per cent pay rise over this year and next. Pictured: People queue for buses during the strike yesterday

Striking unions want pay rises for staff in line with inflation, with the RMT rejecting an offer from Network Rail of an 8 per cent pay rise over this year and next. 

It has refused to put the deal to members.

Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, said: ‘Despite his denials, Mr Shapps has clearly been dictating how the train companies should conduct negotiations with RMT and now he’s ordering them to fire and re-hire workers. The minister also appears to be increasingly desperate and out of touch, making wild claims.’

Asked if his union will target Christmas, Mr Cortes told The Mail+: ‘I’m ruling nothing in and nothing out. But if this dispute continues into the winter, my job as the elected general secretary of our union is to ensure that whatever action our members take has the maximum possible effect.’

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