Rishi Sunak today vowed to stop militant trade unions de-railing Christmas as he announced new laws to ensure trains continue to run during strikes.

The Prime Minister is bringing forward legislation to enable rail operators to run the equivalent of 40 per cent of their normal timetable when staff walkouts occur.

Under the new laws, there will also be requirements for ambulance workers and border security staff to provide a minimum level of service during industrial action.

This will ensure all life-threatening cases are responded to by ambulance crews, while airports and ports must remain open.

The legislation will allow employers to issue work notices to staff to come into work to ensure those minimum service levels are met.

It will also force trade union bosses to take reasonable steps to ensure their members turn up to work in such circumstances.

Trade unions have been warned they face fines of up to £1million if they fail to encourage their members to comply with those orders.

The move is set to cause a political headache for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, whose party relies heavily on trade union funding. 

Rishi Sunak, pictured travelling by rail to Norfolk today, vowed to stop militant trade unions de-railing Christmas as he announced new laws to ensure trains continue to run during strikes

Rishi Sunak, pictured travelling by rail to Norfolk today, vowed to stop militant trade unions de-railing Christmas as he announced new laws to ensure trains continue to run during strikes

Rishi Sunak, pictured travelling by rail to Norfolk today, vowed to stop militant trade unions de-railing Christmas as he announced new laws to ensure trains continue to run during strikes

The Prime Minister is bringing forward legislation to compel rail operators to run the equivalent of 40 per cent of their normal timetable when staff walkouts occur

The Prime Minister is bringing forward legislation to compel rail operators to run the equivalent of 40 per cent of their normal timetable when staff walkouts occur

The Prime Minister is bringing forward legislation to compel rail operators to run the equivalent of 40 per cent of their normal timetable when staff walkouts occur

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch (far left) has led his union members in a series of disruptive rail strikes this year

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch (far left) has led his union members in a series of disruptive rail strikes this year

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch (far left) has led his union members in a series of disruptive rail strikes this year

Ministers said the introduction of minimum service levels regulations for rail workers, ambulance crews and border security staff would bring Britain into line with countries such as France, Italy, Spain and the US.

The Government had consulted on proposals to introduce minimum service levels legislation earlier this year.

It also passed the Strikes (Minimum Sevice Levels) Act – to enable the introduction of minumum service levels – in July, following a series of hugely disruptive public sector strikes.

The PM said: ‘We are doing everything in our power to stop unions de-railing Christmas for millions of people.

‘This legislation will ensure more people will be able to travel to see their friends and family and get the emergency care they need.

‘We cannot go on relying on short term fixes – including calling on our Armed Forces or civil servants – to mitigate the disruption caused by strike action.

‘That’s why we’re taking the right long-term decision to bring in minimum service levels, in line with other countries, to keep people safe and continue delivering the vital public services that hard-working people rely on.’

Under new regulations, set to be laid before Parliament tomorrow, it will be detailed how the equivalent of 40 per cent of train operators’ normal timetables will have to run during strike action.

It will also set out how, in the case of strikes that affect rail infrastructure services, certain priority routes can remain open.

Minimum service level regulations for ambulance workers will ensure that vital ambulance services in England will continue throughout any strike action

This will ensure that cases that are life-threatening, or where there is no reasonable clinical alternative to an ambulance response, are responded to.

For border security, the regulations will apply to employees of Border Force and selected HM Passport Office staff where passport services are required for the purposes of national security.

The laws will set out that border security services should be provided at a level that means that they are no less effective than if a strike were not taking place.

It will also ensure all ports and airports remain open during strike action.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: ‘We must never allow strike action to compromise our border security or cause significant disruption to passengers and goods at our borders.

‘The Armed Forces have commendably stepped up to fill vital roles during recent industrial action, but it would be irresponsible to rely on such short-term solutions to protect our national security.’

The Government is currently holding a further consultation for expanding minimum service level requirements in the NHS, which could limit the impact of strike action by nurses and doctors.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan is also hoping to strike a voluntary agreement on mininum serice levels with teaching unions.

The Government expect to win MPs’ approval for the new minimum service levels for rail workers, ambulance crews and border security staff ahead of Christmas.

The Tories promised to introduce minimum service levels during transport strikes ahead of the 2019 general election.

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