GRANT Shapps today vows to defeat the rail union “dinosaurs” — as it emerges half the country will be paralysed by train strikes next week.
Writing exclusively in The Sun, the Transport Secretary said there will be no surrender to hardline RMT bosses set to bring Britain to its knees with a three-day walkout across trains and tubes.
Just one in five trains will run on strike days — with last services leaving by 6.30pm and disruption expected all week.
A Network Rail map reveals only half of the network will be operating, with no services to Chester, Bournemouth, Blackpool, and most of Wales.
Militant unions told rail users they should work from home for a week to avoid the impending travel chaos, which is set to cost the fragile economy £150million.
Some 50,000 drivers and staff will take to picket lines, claiming their pay rises and conditions fall short.
Mr Shapps accuses union chiefs of being “in another world, populated by dinosaurs” pushing “out of date” working practices, no longer fit for purpose.
He said: “They believe they can demand a substantial pay rise without promising to reform outdated working practices that should have been consigned to the Museum of Industrial Relations.”
And he adds: “I believe in the railways. That’s why we must win — to save them from stagnation and decline.”
The Sun can also reveal ministers have asked the Treasury to look at dishing out refunds to hard-hit season ticket holders.
Mr Shapps’ hardline stance sets up the biggest confrontation between ministers and the unions since the 1980s — vowing to bring the strikers to heel with new laws and reforms.
Amid a summer of rail chaos, specialist trained agency workers are set to be brought in to replace striking drivers, who will not be allowed to claim overtime for the loss of their earnings.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Network Rail and 13 train operators are to strike on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday next week in disputes over pay, jobs and pensions.
Yesterday, the Transport Secretary urged Labour to “put people above their party coffers” and condemn the striking rail unions.
Branding his opposite number Louise Haigh the “shadow secretary of state for strikes” he called on MPs to “stand up to barons rather than bringing the railways to their knees”.
And PM Boris Johnson let rip at Labour leader Sir Keir’s “sphinx-like silence” for trying to sit on the fence and repeatedly refusing to condemn the strike.
Labour’s Ian Lavery said he was “extremely proud” to take cash from the hard-left cabal of unions.