Shapps ‘has legal power’ to help solve rail dispute
THE Government has misled the public by insisting it has no role in resolving the bitter rail dispute, said the TUC.
The union body insisted a legal opinion it had commissioned states that the rail operators’ contracts allow the Government to apply financial sanctions if the operators do not follow its directions in the dispute.
Michael Ford QC added that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has “very extensive powers” over what can be agreed and “significant power” to direct how disputes are handled.
Rail operators are not free to agree terms and conditions without the involvement of Mr Shapps, according to the advice.
It added that before discussing changes affecting staff, operators must agree a mandate with the Transport Secretary.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The Prime Minister and his Transport Secretary have misled the public. When they said the Government has no role in handling this dispute, that’s not true.
“We always believed that ministers had the power to pull the companies’ strings. This legal opinion on rail contracts confirms it.”
But the Department for Transport said it was “extremely misleading “to say Mr Shapps should get involved in the talks.
Train services were disrupted again on Sunday morning following the third strike of the week on Saturday by members of the RMT union over jobs, pay and conditions.