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The Mayor of London said unions risked “punishing the wrong people” as the nation braces for widespread industrial action next week.
That same day, more than 50,000 workers from the RMT at Network rail and 13 train operating companies will stage a walkout on Britain’s railways in the biggest strike on the network since 1989.
Asked whether he agreed with the strikes, Mr Khan told Sky News: “I think these strikes are not necessary and should be called off. The national strikes next week will cause massive damage to London’s economy.
“In relation to the London strike next Tuesday, I’d ask the RMT to meet with TfL – we are willing to meet with you 24 hours of the day, seven days of the week and ACAS are willing to host these talks.”
“The concerns you have around pensions are because of conditions attached by the Government, so you are punishing the wrong people.”
Mr Khan said he had sympathy with transport workers striking next week, hailing the work they had done during the Covid pandemic and stressing he was “pro trade union”.
Later on Friday, Mr Khan accused minsters of “inciting” next week’s strikes in an interview with the PA news agency.
“At the core of this is the Government… orchestrating and engineering and inciting a strike in London by attaching these conditions to the funding deal, which has got the trade unions really concerned.
“The Tories are in government and this is classic deflecting from Shapps and Johnson who are responsible for this divisive politics, for whipping up them versus us, communities versus workers.”
Downing Street said it continues to “call on the unions” to call off next week’s rail strikes but was not planning on ministers taking part in last-ditch negotiations.
A No10 spokesperson said: “As we have made clear, we are not the employers in this case and we can’t intervene in the negotiations between rail companies and the unions. But what we want to see is unions get back round the table with their employer and call off the strikes next week.”
In other developments, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) served notice to ballot hundreds of workers at Southeastern and Great Western Railway (GWR) for strike action and action short of strike.
Voting starts in the next few weeks and industrial action could start from the end of July.