Labour frontbenchers who defied Starmer over rail strike avoid sack

Labour frontbenchers who defied Keir Starmer by joining rail strike picket lines escape with a slap on the wrist after showing their support for RMT workers who brought Britain to a halt

  • More Labour MPs appeared with RMT militants on the picket line on Saturday
  • Starmer said Labour had issued a ‘very clear message’ to stay out of the dispute 
  • David Lammy suggested sacking frontbenchers who manned picket lines

Labour frontbenchers who defied Sir Keir Starmer and joined striking rail workers are set to avoid the sack today. 

The party leader has tried to avoid taking sides in the bitter dispute led by the RMT which led to three days of walkouts last week.  

He banned his top team from taking part in the demonstrations but several ignored his orders and publicly posed with striking workers on picket lines.

The rebels are due to have talks with chief whip Alan Campbell today but sources said frontbenchers are unlikely to be sacked as a punishment. 

It comes after shadow foreign secretary David Lammy suggested yesterday sacking frontbenchers who manned picket lines while their constituents struggled to get to work.

He said Labour had issued a ‘very clear message’ to senior MPs to stay out of the dispute, adding: ‘This is not a moment for posturing, standing on picket lines.’

Rebels: Labour MPs Dan Carden, Kim Johnson, Paula Barker and Ian Byrne join a Liverpool picket on Saturday

Sir Keir Starmer said Labour had issued a ‘very clear message’ to stay out of the dispute after more Labour MPs appeared with RMT militants on the picket line on Saturday

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy suggested yesterday sacking frontbenchers who manned picket lines while their constituents struggled to get to work.

A string of frontbenchers were among 25 Labour MPs who joined picket lines for the first day of the strike on Tuesday.

Among the MPs joining pickets again on Saturday were whip Navendu Mishra and parliamentary aides Kate Osborne and Paula Barker.

Frontbencher Mr Mishra said he was ‘standing in solidarity with striking workers today – and every day’.

Sir Alan is expected to speak to rebel frontbenchers today. But sources played down the idea they would lose their jobs.

Mr Lammy said he opposed the industrial action, adding: ‘All of us are feeling the pinch with inflation.

‘It would not be responsible opposition if I suggested yes to every strike.’

Meanwhile commuters are awaiting the RMT’s next move after a third day of rail strikes on Saturday. It is due to resume talks with Network Rail today.

 More rail strikes will be held this week in worsening disputes over issues including pay, jobs and conditions.

Members of the drivers’ union Aslef on the Croydon Tramlink will strike on Tuesday and Wednesday over pay.

The walkout follows three days of strike action last week on the railways and a 24-hour stoppage on London Underground which crippled services.

Aslef said FirstGroup, the company which operates Tramlink on behalf of Transport for London, has offered tram drivers a 3% pay rise.

Finn Brennan, Aslef’s organiser on Croydon Tramlink and London Underground, said: ‘This would mean a real terms wage cut for people already struggling to deal with rising fuel, energy and food bills.

‘Our members do a difficult and demanding job, working round the clock shifts over 364 days of the year. They deserve a fair pay settlement.

‘The Mayor of London and the board of TfL should be intervening to stop this abuse and make Tramlink treat its staff fairly.’

Talks between the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), Network Rail and train companies are expected to resume in a bid to resolve the national dispute.

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