Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA
Rail workers could be banned from striking if it interrupts with people’s “right to get to work”, under plans being considered by MPs this week.
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 said: “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.
PLANS to severely limit lawful strikes that would see workers treated as “galley slaves” are to be debated in Parliament tomorrow as a Tory MP accuses rail unions of “completely unreasonable” action.
Chris Philp will introduce the Industrial Action (Protection of Critical National Services) Bill under the 10-Minute Rule because he believes unions have “abused” their right to strike, especially on the failing Southern network.
The Croydon South MP claims the proposals have “enormous back-bench support,” with 50 of his Conservative colleagues signing a letter backing the plans.
However, a rail union accused the Tories of regarding workers as “galley slaves.”
A High Court judge would have to rule on whether industrial action could go ahead under the “outrageous” plans. Under the law, a skeleton rail service would take people to and from work.
An Aslef source said: “This proposal is clearly outrageous. We are not galley slaves.
“We are taking perfectly lawful strike action and have been given a huge mandate to do so from our membership.
“We are a member-led organisation. The Tories think the answer to that is to change the law and redefine the status of rail workers to prevent them from striking.”
Guards on Southern are starting a 24-hour strike this morning in a long-running dispute over safety.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Southern should be engaging with RMT in the same way that they have engaged with the TUC and the government in the drivers’ dispute.
“That is the way forward and the only way that we can deal with the safety issues that have led to the latest phase of strike action.”
The United Kingdom has sold almost £50 million worth of arms to Turkey since its government clamped down on opposition groups after the failed coup attempt in July 2016.
According to newly published export statistics, Turkey, which is now a major buyer of British weapons, purchased £26 million worth of ML13 licences pertaining to exports of armored plate, body armor and helmets between July 1 and September 30.
Britain also sold Turkey £8.5 million worth of ML10 licences, for aircraft, helicopters and drones, and approximately £4 million worth of ML4 licences, for missiles, bombs and “counter-measures.”
In total, Turkey has bought £330 million in arms since 2015 and now it is on the UK Department for International Trade’s list of “priority markets” for arms exports.
The increased sales of weapons come amid concerns that the country might use the weapons in violation of human rights.
“The political situation in Turkey is unstable, and the…
BRITAIN’S decision to send tanks through the Channel Tunnel in preparation for a potential armed conflict with Russia has been slammed as a “cheap kind of PR”.
The test was successful, giving Britain an extra choice when transporting defence equipment to the continent.
But Colonel Alexander Zhilin, a Russian military expert who heads the Centre for the Study of Applied Problems of National Security, berated the move as another attempt to escalate anti-Russian sentiment.
He said: “The things that we have been observing in Europe for quite some time now can be described by one term: fear mongering.
Five tanks were sent across the Channel Tunnel as part of the drill.
The newly-inaugurated President is a vocal critic of Nato, and has previously mooted the US may pull out if smaller member states fail to start paying their way.
He later clarified that Nato was “very important” to him, but criticised it because it wasn’t “taking care of terror” and smaller states were not paying their fair share.
The insurer is among a number of firms who turned down cover for a British family who bought a house for asylum seekers.
A British family have spent more than £400,000 buying a house in Brighton for Syrian refugees in an extraordinary act of personal generosity – only to find that major UK insurers rejected them when they tried to buy buildings insurance.
Direct Line, one of the UK’s biggest home insurers, told the family that it would not agree to sell them a buildings policy because the Syrian refugees would be on benefits. “We were totally thrown by it,” says the donor, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The family were subsequently rejected by other big insurers. Eventually they found cover – at twice the price they expected – through a specialist broker. “We wanted to help refugees in some way. We were moved by the plight of those in Syria and knew about the government’s scheme to move 20,000 refugees to the UK. We also knew that accommodation was a problem and that, in general, refugees are dispersed to the poorer parts of the UK as housing there is cheaper, which in turn means that in general employment is also more difficult for them to find. We are in the fortunate position to have recently come into some money from a bequest, and decided we could help at least one family by buying a house for them.
“It was on exchange of contracts that we tried to obtain buildings insurance, and were surprised this was either refused or charged at a higher rate if the tenants were refugees – and, perhaps more alarmingly, benefits claimants.”
In a statement Direct Line said: “Unfortunately we are unable to provide landlord insurance for tenants receiving housing benefits. However, if tenants are on disability benefits, employed, in full-time education or retired we would be able to offer them a quote.”
The saga throws a fresh spotlight on the wider problems faced by the UK’s 4.6 million housing benefit claimaints, who face rejection if they want to rent from a private landlord.
Many major lenders and insurers have clauses in their contracts which expressly forbid landlords from accepting tenants who are on benefits.
Direct Line’s website, where it boasts it has provided insurance to 240,000 landlords, includes an FAQ section where the question “Do you cover properties that have DSS tenants?” is answered: “No, we don’t currently cover properties where all of the tenants are unemployed and claiming benefits.” In addition it says it will not give cover to landlords who house asylum seekers.
Fergus Wilson, the controversial property tycoon who is one of Britain’s biggest landlords, provoked a furore when he said he would evict 200 tenants who were on housing benefit. But this week, in correspondence with his local MP, Wilson said he is forced to evict tenants on benefits because the conditions in his loans from Mortgage Express, now owned by the UK government, exclude tenants on housing benefit.
Despite the anonymous donor’s problems with finding insurance in Brighton, he is pressing ahead with buying more properties to house Syrian refugees. “I wouldn’t say we are multimillionaires. In fact, we were burgled and they hardly took anything because we are not the type who buy jewellery.
“I come from a terraced house in Salford and I have always had a lot of sympathy for the poor. People who know us say we are not working class now, and it’s true, we live in a big expensive house. But I still have an outlook that is sympathetic to people less fortunate than us.
“We plan to buy a few more homes in the area. Brighton is a very accepting community, it’s quite multicultural and has a large LGBT community. We think people here will be accepting about Syrian refugees and the issues that they face.”
The donors say they want anonymity “so that the refugees do not feel in any way beholden to us. We just want to be able to help out, and maybe one day we’ll meet them by accident”.
Former Ukip leader’s love affair with Donald Trump’s America grows as he lands political analyst role on US news channel.
Nigel Farage’s love affair with Donald Trump’s America has taken another leap forward with news the former Ukip leader is to become a commentator on Fox News.
Fox announced Farage would be joining to provide political analysis on its main news channel and its business network in a short statement during Trump’s swearing-in as the 45th US president.
Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who has attempted to forge ties with Trump following his victory, and was also a backer of the campaign to leave the EU. New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman has reported that the media mogul, who owns the Sun and Times newspapers in London, speaks to Trump at least three times a week.
Trump has publicly praised Farage, posing with him just after his election victory and tweeting that he would make a “great” ambassador to the US.
On Thursday night, Farage and his ally Aaron Banks, who bankrolled the Leave.EU campaign, held a party at a Washington hotel near the White House.
During the event, Farage repeatedly praised Trump, describing him as “the only person I have ever met in my life who makes me feel like an introvert” and saying that “Brexit is great, but Trump is Brexit plus plus plus”.
Steve Hilton, the former adviser to David Cameron who was also recently unveiled as a Fox contributor, was also at the party organised by Banks and Farage. Trump did not attend despite the organisers repeatedly suggesting he might.
It is unclear whether the Fox role will affect Farage’s radio show on LBC, which only began two weeks ago, or his role as MEP for south-east England.