Keir Starmer under pressure as Labour MPs defy order and join RMT strike

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 (PA)
(PA)

More than a dozen Labour MPs joined a rail strike picket line on Wednesday despite orders against doing so from party leader Keir Starmer.

Shadow transport secretary Sam Tarry was the biggest Labour name to take part in the protest outside Euston railway station, which was organised by RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers).

"If we don’t make a stand today, people’s lives could be lost,” Mr Tarry said on Good Morning Britain.

"Some of the lowest-paid workers are on strike today in the rail industry, safety critical workers, workers who make sure our railways get people to work and do so safely.

"It can’t be accepted anymore, that people just have to accept that inflation is out of control.

“The Government is doing nothing about the cost-of-living crisis."

Labour has reportedly said Mr Tarry will be investigated by the party’s whips for defying the orders of Sir Keir Starmer. Amid speculation he could be sacked, Mr Tarry said “any Labour Party MP would be in support of striking workers”.

He was joined at Euston by party colleagues John McDonnell, Richard Burgon, Kim Johnson, Emma Lewell-Buck, Mohammad Yasin, Ian Mearns, and Ian Lavery among others, while former leader Jeremy Corbyn - who now sits as an independent - was also present.

RMT said it is striking because it has not been able to secure a pay proposal or a guarantee there will not be any redundancies as the Government adjusts its railway programme.

The strikes have brought services to an almost standstill with only 58 of the 314 usual daily passenger services running from Euston.

Mr Corbyn, MP for Islington North, was pictured in conversation with RMT leader Mick Lynch and filmed dancing with protestors. He tweeted: “Solidarity as ever with @RMTunion and its members fighting for fair pay, conditions and safety.”

He previously wrote: “The way forward has to be a radical economic alternative, including public ownership of rail, energy, water and the Royal Mail.”

Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) members at Avanti West Coast have also taken strike action in a dispute over pay. Labour politicians Monica Lennon and Ruth Jones said they would be taking part.

Sir Keir Starmer has not commented on Wednesday’s strikes.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News: “Nobody should be on the picket lines, stopping hardworking people who spent £160,000 per rail worker preventing any of them from losing their jobs during the pandemic. We come out of the pandemic and this is the way people are being thanked.”

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