Government ‘misleading’ over role in rail strikes, legal advice suggests

The Government is being accused of “misleading” the public by insisting it does not have a role in negotiations to resolve the bitter rail dispute. The TUC said an independent legal opinion undermined the Government’s claims that the dispute is just between the train operators and unions. The union organisation said the legal opinion it has received clarifies that the contracts between rail operators and Government allow the Government to apply financial sanctions if operators do not follow its directions in the current dispute. The legal opinion, commissioned by the TUC from Michael Ford QC of Old Square Chambers, advises that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has “very extensive powers” over what can be agreed between rail operators and unions, and “very significant contractual power” to direct how industrial disputes are handled, the TUC said. Rail operators are not free to agree terms and conditions with their employees without the involvement of the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, according to the advice. The legal advice given to the TUC added that before discussing any changes to pay, terms and conditions, redundancies, or restructuring with rail unions, rail operators must agree a mandate with the Transport Secretary. However, the Department for Transport said...

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