Get on track! Grant Shapps urges Keir Starmer to condemn rail strikes set to cause travel misery for millions and asks Labour leader to appeal for unions bosses to reopen negotiations
- Transport Secretary called on Labour leader to issue an appeal to the unions
- Mr Shapps accused unions of resisting ‘modernisation of..working practices’
- Tomorrow 40,000 RMT members are set to strike over pay, jobs and conditions
Grant Shapps last night urged Keir Starmer to finally condemn the rail strikes that will cause chaos for millions of travellers tomorrow.
The Transport Secretary called on the Labour leader to issue a last-minute appeal for the unions to reopen their negotiations with bosses.
Sir Keir stopped short of denouncing the action yesterday, merely repeating his line that the ‘strikes should not go ahead’.
Services on the railways will be crippled from tomorrow in the biggest walkout for more than 30 years in a row over pay, jobs and conditions. Around 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will also strike on Thursday and Saturday. Travel on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday will be badly affected.
The Transport Secretary, pictured, highlighted revelations in The Mail on Sunday about how Sir Keir had effectively backed the strikes by opposing attempts to block them
The RMT and Unite are holding a 24-hour walkout on London Underground tomorrow, which will cause further disruption.
Mr Shapps yesterday accused the unions of resisting the ‘modernisation of some very antiquated working practices’.
And in a letter to Sir Keir, he wrote: ‘This week, the RMT union will inflict huge disruption on families and businesses with the biggest rail strikes in Britain since 1989.
‘These strikes will hit millions of families in the pocket. They will harm the economy and damage businesses. They will disrupt operations on the NHS and jeopardise GCSE and A-level exams.
‘The public will not forgive the Labour Party for siding with those who are attempting to bring our country to a standstill.
‘It’s time for Labour to stop backing these strikes, and urge your union paymasters to talk, not walk.’
The Transport Secretary, pictured, highlighted revelations in The Mail on Sunday about how Sir Keir had effectively backed the strikes by opposing attempts to block them.
Minutes of a Labour Party meeting last month, stated: ‘On possible action on the railways he [Keir] said it was wrong for the Government to restrict the right to strike.’
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, yesterday warned of more rail strikes if workers were not given pay rises. Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he vowed to ‘continue our campaign’ if no pay settlement was reached. Mr Lynch claimed more rail unions were poised for industrial action over the summer because ‘people can’t take it any more’.
Labour leader Sir Keir stopped short of denouncing the action yesterday, merely repeating his line that the ‘strikes should not go ahead’
On the same programme, Labour frontbencher Lisa Nandy said the railways were becoming less safe because of the removal of guards.
She said: ‘I’m not sure when Grant Shapps last got on a train but the railways are fast becoming no-go areas for many, many people. People with disabilities, older people, women particularly travelling late at night.
‘The Government should not be calling it efficiency savings to take skilled, experienced staff off the railways who help to keep us safe.’
But a spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group said: ‘We have the safest railway in Europe. Passengers can be assured that there will be no compromises on rail safety. This sort of charged rhetoric and language is not helpful, and won’t bring a quicker conclusion to industrial action.’
Tory MP Jake Berry broke ranks to say the Government should be negotiating with trade unions to resolve their pay dispute.
He told Times Radio: ‘By training I’m a lawyer and I can tell you that the only way out of a dispute is via negotiation.
‘I call on all parties including the Government to get around the table because it’s going to have a huge negative impact on lives.’
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