Sir Keir Starmer has accused ministers of “pouring petrol on fire” over the train strike dispute as Britain braces for industrial action next week.
Labour’s leader is set to claim Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, want the strikes to go ahead to “feed off the division”.
He is expected to say they are spending time designing “attack ads” – referencing ones posted by Conservatives calling the action “Labour’s strikes” – instead of being at the negotiating table
“Instead of grown-up conversations to take the heat out of the situation, they are pouring petrol on the fire,” Sir Keir will tell he Labour Local Government Association conference.
Union leaders have confirmed next week’s rail and Tube strikes will go ahead after talks failed to resolve a bitter row over pay, jobs and conditions.
This means industrial action will hit Network Rail and 13 train operators on Tuesday, Thursday and next Saturday, as well as the London Underground on Tuesday.
Starmer accuses government of ‘pouring petrol on fire’ of rail strike dispute
Sir Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson and the transport secretary Grant Shapps of “stoking divisions” over nationwide rail strikes set to take place this week.
The Labour leader will accuse the government of “pouring petrol on the fire” over its handling of the dispute with unions, instead of attempting to take the heat out of the row.
Zoe Tidman19 June 2022 00:57
What are the strikes all about?
Here is a reminder of what rail workers are fighting for.
Union boss Mick Lynch said thousands of jobs were being cut across the rail networks and workers were facing below-inflation pay rises.
“In the face of this massive attack on our people the RMT cannot be passive,” he said.
Other issues at stake are outlined here:
Zoe Tidman18 June 2022 20:09
ICYMI: London mayor blames government over one of next week’s strikes
London’s mayor has accused the government of “inciting” one of next week’s rail strikes, as more workers are set to be balloted for industrial action in growing disputes over pay and jobs.
Zoe Tidman18 June 2022 19:09
Rail industry body criticises strike
A Rail Delivery Group, an industry membership body, as criticised the strike action confirmed today.
A spokesperson said: “No one wins in the event of a strike. The action next week will affect the millions of people who use the train each day, including key workers, students with exams, those who cannot work from home, holidaymakers and people attending important business and leisure events.”
They added: “Working with Network Rail, our plan is to keep as many services running as possible, but significant disruption will be inevitable and some parts of the network will not have a service, so passengers should plan their journeys carefully and check their train times.”
Zoe Tidman18 June 2022 18:11
Union boss met with cheers as she addresses crowd on rail strikes
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress has been met with applause and cheers as she gave a speech to the crowd in Parliament Square.
She said: “I have seen the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has threatened rail workers that they will strike themselves out of a job.
“Well you are wrong Mr Shapps: if you keep stirring, come the next election, you will be out of a job.”
Zoe Tidman18 June 2022 16:10
Rail strikes next week could ‘cost tourism, leisure and theatre sectors over £1bn’
Next week’s rail strikes could devastate the UK’s post-Covid recovery and cost key industries over a billion pounds, the government has been told.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry group UK Hospitality, warned tourism and leisure businesses were already fragile after pandemic lockdowns and would take a “big hit”.
“At the best, we think it’s going to take a hit to hospitality revenues of over half a billion pounds,” she told Times Radio.
“But that presupposes that many people will travel on those shoulder days when the trains and the Tubes will still be disrupted – it could be more significant than that.
“And if you look across the whole tourism, and leisure and theatre industries as a whole, you are definitely looking at an economic hit of over a billion pounds.”
Zoe Tidman18 June 2022 14:47
When do the rail strikes start?
After members of the RMT rail union voted 8:1 in favour of strike action over jobs, pay and conditions, their union has called nationwide rail strikes for three dates in late June.
Simon Calder has all the details, including when they start and what lines they are due to affect:
When do the train strikes start?
In the forthcoming strikes by Network Rail signallers, only about 20% of lines would be open for trains – many of which might not run anyway
Zoe Tidman18 June 2022 13:29
Network Rail hits out at RMT after strike announced
Network Rail has responded to news of the strike confirmation.
“Yet again the RMT union are dismissing talks before we’ve even finished, with more planned for tomorrow,” a spokesperson said on Saturday.
“We’re serious about trying to find a solution and work out a compromise that gives our people a decent pay rise, but it has to be affordable for taxpayers and farepayers.
“Union demands have so far been unobtainable, and the union seems completely focussed on ‘take’, with very little ‘give’.
“It makes negotiating extremely challenging, but we will continue to try and find a way through to try and avert this needless and damaging strike.”
Zoe Tidman18 June 2022 12:00
‘Over to you Grant Shapps’
The shadow employment rights secretary has said it is “over to you Grant Shapps” after the train strikes were confirmed:
Zoe Tidman18 June 2022 11:03
Rail and Tube strikes will go ahead next week
Next week’s rail and Tube strikes will go ahead after talks failed to resolve a row over pay, jobs and conditions, the RMT union announced.
Zoe Tidman18 June 2022 09:00