Starmer DOES support strikes: Sir Keir accused of hypocrisy after leaked documents from a meeting of Labour’s ruling body reveal he privately supported action by rail workers despite insisting publicly he regrets the chaos they will unleash next week
- Leaked minutes reveal Sir Keir privately supported imminent rail strike action
- Earlier this month he insisted publicly he didn’t want to see the strikes go ahead
- Strike action by rail workers will take place next week over three days
Sir Keir Starmer has been accused of hypocrisy after leaked documents reveal he privately supported strike action by rail workers – while publicly claiming to regret the chaos it is about to unleash.
The Mail on Sunday has obtained minutes from a meeting of Labour’s ruling body which record Sir Keir saying he opposed Government moves to restrict industrial action by the Aslef train drivers’ union.
But earlier this month, the Opposition leader insisted: ‘I don’t want to see strikes, nobody wants the strikes.’
Leaked minutes from a meeting of Labour’s ruling body show Sir Keir saying he opposed Government moves to restrict industrial action by the Aslef train drivers’ union. But earlier this month he insisted that he did not want to see the strikes go ahead
The rail network will be paralysed for three days this week over a demand by workers for double-digit pay increases, while school summer holidays have been thrown into doubt after another Labour-affiliated union, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), raised the prospect of more strikes next month.
Sir Keir’s supportive comments came at a meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) last month, just eight days after Aslef members voted to retain their links to the party.
The leaked minutes say Sir Keir ‘thanked… Aslef for staying with the Labour Party’, before adding: ‘On possible action on the railways he [Keir] said it was wrong for the Government to restrict the right to strike.’
Last night, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Keir Starmer’s claims to be on the side of the public have been exposed as a total sham.
While his union paymasters are driving their members towards a national strike under false pretences, he is saying one thing in public and another in private.
‘Far from not wanting the strikes to happen, behind closed doors he is giving them the green light, opposing efforts to prevent them and pocketing rail union cash.’
General secretary Mick Lynch (pictured) confirmed strikes at Network Rail and 13 train operators will go ahead on Tuesday, Thursday and next Saturday, and on London Underground on Tuesday
Sir Keir gave his support for rail strikes at a meeting of the NEC – which includes representatives from Aslef and the TSSA – on May 24 – 15 days after rail unions started balloting for action
Aslef has announced strikes at three rail firms starting this week, joining other action by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and Unite.
A new poll today finds that 52 per cent of voters believe the unions’ pay demands are ‘unreasonable’, compared to 26 per cent who thought them reasonable. The YouGov survey for the Rail Delivery Group found only one in four people supported the RMT action, while 39 per cent did not.
The Mail on Sunday has also learned that Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is planning to increase the maximum damages businesses can claim from unions for the impact of illegal strikes from £250,000 to £1 million.
He is expected to table the proposal in Parliament as early as next week, raising the cap in line with inflation – backdated over 40 years. He is also planning to let businesses recruit temporary and agency staff to take up jobs during strikes.
Sir Keir gave his support for rail strikes at a meeting of the NEC – which includes representatives from Aslef and the TSSA – on May 24, 15 days after rail unions started balloting for action. Its minutes were recorded by long-term NEC member Ann Black.
Labour has been split over how to respond to the strikes, with Shadow Cabinet Ministers Wes Streeting and Lisa Nandy publicly indicating their support for the action.
The RMT union yesterday announced the strikes will go ahead after talks failed. The union has demanded pay rises tied to inflation – now 9 per cent and predicted to hit 11 per cent by October – and guarantees of no compulsory redundancies.
General secretary Mick Lynch confirmed strikes at Network Rail and 13 train operators will go ahead on Tuesday, Thursday and next Saturday, and on London Underground on Tuesday.
He said yesterday that the strike was part of a ‘class struggle’, telling the TUC’s We Demand Better protest in London: ‘The message is clear: we are in a class struggle now.
‘If your conditions are being attacked, if your pay is being attacked, if your jobs are being stripped from you, you are in a class struggle and there are people over there in Parliament who are meant to be on our side who have got to answer the question “Which side are you on?”
‘Are you going to be with us or are you going to sit on the sidelines while these Tories butcher the working class?
‘Stand up and fight with us or get out of the way. We will keep this strike going until we get a settlement… Get up and fight or live on your knees. The struggle is on. Bring it on.’
Next week’s rail and Tube strikes are set to go ahead after talks failed to resolve a row over pay, jobs and working conditions
As well as causing chaos for commuters, this week’s action will hit people travelling to the Glastonbury festival, the UK athletics championships in Manchester and concerts in London’s Hyde Park by Elton John and the Rolling Stones
Last night, Mr Shapps said: ‘We have repeatedly urged the RMT not to go ahead with these damaging strikes and instead focus their energy on getting round the negotiating table.
‘Sadly they have ignored these requests time and again, and we are now on the cusp of major disruption which will cause misery. Many people who do not get paid if they can’t get to work face losing money at a time they simply can’t afford to.
‘Children sitting exams will face extra distraction. And vulnerable people trying to attend long-awaited hospital appointments may have no choice but to cancel. By carrying out this action the RMT is punishing millions of innocent people.’
As well as causing chaos for commuters, this week’s action will hit people travelling to the Glastonbury festival, the UK athletics championships in Manchester and concerts in London’s Hyde Park by Elton John and the Rolling Stones.
Meanwhile TSSA staff have also threatened to strike next month, affecting the start of the school holidays. The union has served notice to ballot workers at Southeastern and Great Western Railway.
The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said: ‘No one wins in the event of a strike’, while the Treasury warned giving in to strikers’ demands over pay would fuel inflation.
Meanwhile the hospitality industry warned the strikes could cost the sector £500 million in lost revenue – ‘devastating’ for businesses still recovering from the pandemic.
A Whitehall source said: ‘We can’t have a situation where trade unions are holding the country to ransom by grinding crucial public services and businesses to a halt.’
On plans to raise the cap on damages for any illegal action, they added: ‘If trade unions dare to flout the law this summer, we’ll make sure they cough up to ensure businesses are properly compensated. It’s insane the cap has remained the same for 40 years.’
A spokesman for the Labour leader said: ‘Keir has been very clear that these strikes should not go ahead. The only people who want these strikes to go ahead are Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps. The Government need to do their job rather than stoking division and putting politics before public interest.’
Source: Read Full Article