'Holding the country to ransom!' Liz Truss plans crackdown on striking MILITANT unions

The Tory frontrunner will put the changes before MPs within a month of becoming Prime Minister, if her leadership bid is successful.

She revealed her radical shake-up as rail union leader Mick Lynch yesterday threatened walkouts could go on indefinitely unless the Government gives in to his demands.

Ms Truss said: “Once again we’re seeing militant trade unionists holding our country to ransom, with members of Sir Keir Starmer’s party keeping them company on the picket lines. As Prime Minister I’ll crackdown on the debilitating strikes that cripple the vital services that hard-working people rely on.”

The plan drawn up by Ms Truss includes introducing minimum service levels on critical national infrastructure to keep trains, buses and other services running.

New laws will be introduced in parliament within a month of taking office if her leadership bid is successful. She will raise ballot thresholds to make it harder for strike action to take place across all sectors.

A cooling off period would also be introduced so unions can no longer strike as many times as they like in the six month period after a ballot.

Hard left union boss Mr Lynch, the General Secretary of the RMT Union, warned that Britain could be brought by a standstill by a wave of strikes hitting “every sector of the economy”.

He claimed NHS workers, teachers, transport and postal workers could walk out later this year. Ministers yesterday accused the militant union bosses of “holding the country hostage” in a row over pay, job redundancies and conditions.

Local Government minister Paul Scully yesterday told the Daily Express prolonged strikes will force businesses to close. He said: “The fact is, people are struggling because of inflation and the cost of living crisis.

“The very people Mick Lynch and the unions purport to help are the ones suffering the most. Their militant approach is doing nothing to help those people at all. We see people saying they want to protect jobs and businesses – but all of these are put at risk the longer it goes on.

“If strikes do last, businesses already struggling with money – they are put at risk. And therefore it puts jobs at risks.”

Levelling-up minister Neil O’Brien told the Daily Express: “Widespread strikes could really damage the economy at a time when it’s already going to be really difficult for a lot of people.

“The strikes are the last thing we need. If strikes did spread to healthcare, that would be extremely dangerous. We will run the risk of people being injured or killed.”

Only around one in five trains ran yesterday, with some areas having no services all day.

Another strike will be held tomorrow (Saturday) while RMT members on London Underground and London Overground, and some bus drivers in the capital in Unite, will take industrial action today (Friday). Education Secretary James Cleverly accused Mr Lynch and his union comrades of “holding the country hostage”.

He said: “They’ve got a very very good salary package, they have incredibly good, ridiculously good terms and conditions, and what they’re doing through these strikes, is they are disadvantaging people trying to get to work, trying to put food over the table, trying to keep a roof over their heads.

“I think Grant Shapps has made it absolutely clear that these strikes are unfair and completely inappropriate, and it’s wrong that people are held hostage by the unions in this way.”

Mr Lynch, speaking from a picket line at Euston Station, London, said: “What you are going to get is a wave of solidarity action, generalised strike action, synchronised action. And you’ll see it in every sector of the economy, in education, in health, wider parts of the transport system, in all sectors, the private sector as well.

“People are fed up with the way they’ve been treated. The British worker is basically underpaid and gets no dignity or respect in the workplace. We’ve got to change that so we get a square deal for everyone in Britain – and that’s what the unions are determined to do.

“There is a movement for change. I don’t know if there will be a general strike in the traditional terms but there will certainly be a wave of solidarity. There’ll be a wave of synchronised action between the trade unions, people supporting each other,” Lynch told Times Radio.

He also branded Transport Minister Grant Shapps “hysterical”, adding: “We don’t have a fixed programme – I don’t have a whiteboard saying it starts on this day and it ends on that day. We won’t be broken. We are determined to get a settlement.

“People have shown on the picket lines they are determined to dig in, we’re not going to waste our members’ efforts. We will take the action that our members want to take as we go along, so we’re not going to be broken. We will continue the fight until we get a settlement.”

Markku Viherlaiho, 67, waiting at Liverpool Street station, said: “I’m a nurse and we only got offered four per cent so the union have a pretty good deal.”

At Tottenham Hale, Tom Hobbes, 32, was trying to get a reduced Stansted Express service to go on holiday in Turkey. He said: “The strikes just seem to be a never-ending story.”

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines argued that an 8 per cent pay rise is a “good offer” – despite it falling short of inflation.

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