A FORMER Welsh Government minister has suggested that Westminster overreach could be tackled with a "progressive alliance" at a general election.

Alun Davies MS, who previously served as a minister for local government, praised rail union chief Mick Lynch's call for peaceful civil disobedience aginst Westminster overreach this week, adding that "we need to demonstrate clearly that we have a democratic mandate from the people of Wales."

In comments to The National, Mr Davies accused the UK Government of "acting in an arrogant and high-handed way" over its plans to overturn a 2017 Welsh law protecting trade union rights.

"Denying our democracy and our mandate undermines the basis of the UK’s democracy and constitutional settlement," he said.

"We reach agreements with them, and they break those same agreements - in exactly the same way as they break international law and international agreements."

The UK Government has come under fire recently for its intention to scrap elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol, customs arrangements it previously agreed with the European Union as part of its post-Brexit trade deal. 

"We need a new democracy where our rights are recognised and entrenched," Mr Davies, who represents Blaenau Gwent, added.

"In the meantime, we need to work with colleagues such as our trades union friends, to deliver a different way of working and to create a people's settlement where - in this case - our services will simply not employ agency workers to break strikes."

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Asked how the Welsh Government, trade unions and the public could achieve this new democratic settlement, Mr Davies said: "My answer would be a progressive alliance to deliver PR [a proportional representation voting system] and a radical federalism.

"The by-elections in England last week demonstrated that people are willing to vote for an anti-Tory candidate and party that promises change."

The concept of a "progressive alliance" has been floated numerous times over the past decade across a number of issues - the idea being that different parties agree to help each other electorally in order to advance a specific policy.

This week the UK Government announced its intention to repeal the Trade Union (Wales) Act, passed by the Senedd in 2017, as part of its efforts to block workers from striking.

The Act bans public sector bodies from using agency staff to plug gaps if their workers go out on strike - a practice that damages the ability of workers to win industrial disputes with their employers.

The announcement by Westminster is thought to be a reaction to last week's RMT rail strikes, which saw around 50,000 railway staff across the UK - from ticket collectors and cleaners to signallers - walk out over pay cuts and working conditions.

Teachers, doctors, firefighters and postal workers are just some of those that could join the RMT in striking over the coming weeks and months, and the UK Government is keen to curtail further action.

"This latest attack on trade union rights is not just an attack on all trade unionists, but an anti-democratic move to undermine Welsh devolution," RMT chief Mick Lynch told The National this week.

“Using agency workers to break strike action is immoral, impractical and unsafe on the railways - our members are highly skilled and cannot simply be replaced by agency staff. 

“RMT will use all legal means and peaceful civil disobedience to resist any further attacks against trade union rights.”

First Minister Mark Drakeford has called the idea of using agency staff to cover striking railworkers "a piece of nonsense", blasting Westminster's "disrespectful agenda" towards Welsh democracy and devolution.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has called for a referendum on Wales' future in the UK, branding it "potentially devolution’s breaking point".

Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds, meanwhile, said that such a referendum "would only bring more division to an already divided country, and take away focus from more pressing political issues."

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