Mick Whelan, the Secretary General of train drivers union ASLEF, has issued a stark threat to the Government over their incoming strike legislation.
He warned that the current rail strikes could get five times worse as a retaliation for the Government passing the Minimum Service Bill.
The Minimum Service Levels Bill, which will soon become law, will force some public services – including the rail network – to always maintain a basic service even on strike days.
When asked by TalkTV’s Tom Newton Dunn if this would be “the moment you really have lost”, Mr Whelan responded: “Not really. I think all that happens is it takes us five days to have one day’s action, you make strike harder and longer, you make the ability to recover from it more difficult.
“And I see things getting worse. Also, we believe this legislation is inherently unsafe. So there’s a long way to go yet.”
He continued: “Well, we can work around, if we’re going to take one day’s action, we’ll now take five if the levels are 20 percent.
“That’s one obvious thing. Also, we are safety-critical staff.
“If our focus is impacted for any reason, right, and we feel it’s unsafe, then we do not have to work and should not be forced to work.”
Mr Whelan also warned that any resolution with the Government is “further away than ever”.
He continued: “At what point do we, after four years without a pay rise, have to get people’s attention? How do we articulate the voice of the people we represent?
“And at what point are people going to listen to us? Now, this can’t go on forever.
“We’d like a resolution tomorrow. We’d have liked a resolution 14 months ago when this started.”
When asked whether the unions would strike for two or three weeks in a row, Mr Whelan said: “It’s a possibility, I mean, that’ll be decided by my board, which is eight train drivers.
“But yeah, it could be more strikes. It could be overtime bans. It could be a combination of both. But we can’t be here in three years time, can we?”
Rail strikes taking place over half-term this week are set to cost the hospitality industry up to £100million in lost sales, with the walkout wreaking havoc on the FA Cup final.
The thousands of fans heading to Manchester this Saturday to watch the final will be hit with major disruption, as rail workers walk out across the country.
Pubs have already been hit with a wave of cancellations as a result of the industrial action.
Members of the RMT union have voted for another six months of action in response to the ongoing pay dispute after they rejected a nine percent pay deal without putting it to their members.
The UK will see strike action from the ASLEF union on Wednesday 31 May and Saturday 3 June.
Meanwhile, the RMT union will stage a walkout on Friday 2 June.
The strike will see 20,000 train managers, caterers and station staff all walk off the job. As many as 19 rail lines will be affected.