Rishi Sunak Vows To Get Tough On Striking Workers (But Won't Say When)

The prime minister gives the impression that he is making it up as he goes along.
Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak
Victoria Jones via PA Wire/PA Images

Rishi Sunak may be small in stature, but he was in macho man mode at prime minister’s questions today.

He vowed to introduce “new tough laws” to crack down on striking workers as the country braces itself for a wave of industrial action in the run-up to Christmas.

Railway staff, nurses and ambulance workers will all go on strike between now and 25 December, and the prime minister wanted MPs to know he was really very cross about it.

“Hard-working families right now in this country are facing challenges,” Sunak declared.

“The government has been reasonable. It’s accepted the recommendations of an independent pay review body, giving pay rises in many cases higher than the private sector.

“But if the union leaders continue to be unreasonable, then it is my duty to take action to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British public.

“That’s why, since I became prime minister, I have been working for new tough laws to protect people from this disruption.”

However, his strong words rather ignored the fact that the government has so far failed to keep its 2019 Conservative manifesto promise to bring in legislation requiring “that a minimum service operates during transport strikes”.

And asked later what the “new tough laws” will actually do or when they will arrive, Sunak’s spokesman was unable to say.

He said government work on the new measures was “ongoing” although it is apparently being done “at speed”.

“We keep the powers under review and obviously in light of what we are seeing with effectively rolling strikes, the prime minister thinks it is right to push ahead with new powers,” the spokesman said.

But with precisely zero evidence that the legislation will ever see the light of day, or make a blind bit of difference to people’s lives if it does, it is hard to escape the conclusion that when it coms to strikes, the PM is all talk and no action.


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