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Mick Lynch calls for coordinated strike in major dispute escalation

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Mick Lynch argues with BBC host over reporting on strikes

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Mick Lynch has called for tens of thousands of workers to take part in coordinated strike action across multiple sectors. The action would involve teachers, firefighters and nurses – and possibly junior doctors, who are currently considering joining the wave of industrial unrest. The General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) said the action would be part of an attempt to “maximise” the influence of the unions.

This comes on the fourth out of five days of train strikes this year.

Speaking to Bloomberg from a picket line, Mr Lynch said: “We need to maximise our influence and leverage up across hopefully everyone that’s involved in a dispute.

“So that’ll be teachers, health care. I think we’ve got the fire brigade coming into it soon.”

Yesterday, Business Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that the Government would be perssing ahead with new laws to crack down on industrial action, pledging to introduce the new legislation “in the coming weeks”.

The new laws will primarily affect fire, ambulance and rail services, for which “minimum safety levels” will be set during times of industrial action.

The bill will also cover “health services, education, nuclear decommissioning, other transport services and border security”, for which the Government says it “expects to continue to reach voluntary agreements, and would only look to consult on minimum safety levels should these voluntary positions not be agreed”.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced the new legislation yesterday, while also calling for union leaders to return to talks.

BEIS said ministers are “reaching out to unions to invite them to sit down and discuss the evidence that the Government will be submitting to the pay review bodies”.

During these discussions, the Government called for the unions to cancel their upcoming strikes “in a bid to resolve these disputes constructively through dialogue”.

Mr Shapps said the Government would still “protect the freedom to strike”, whilst also looking to safeguard “life and livelihoods”.

He said the measures were being introduced to “restore the balance between those seeking to strike and protecting the public from disproportionate disruption”.

Responding to the announcement, the GMB union, which represents ambulance workers, said: “A Government that has presided over 13 years of failure in our public services is now seeking to scapegoat the NHS staff and ambulance workers who do so much to care for the people of our country.”

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A wave of industrial action has affected a large number of sectors, including the health service and train lines.

Rail workers in the RMT and other unions have taken part in a series of large-scale strikes over more than six months, with Thursday marking the sixth day of action since last summer by members of Aslef, which represents most train drivers.

Meanwhile, junior doctors will go on strike for the second time ever in March if they vote for industrial action in a ballot which commences next week.

The British Medical Association confirmed that, if members vote for industrial action, junior doctors in England will walk out for 72 hours and will not provide emergency NHS care during the strike.

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