Shadow transport minister Sam Tarry sacked from frontbench after attending RMT picket line

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 (House of Commons )
(House of Commons )

Shadow transport minister Sam Tarry has been "removed from the frontbench" after appearing on a picket line during the rail strike.

Mr Tarry had joined striking RMT members on the picket line at Euston on Wednesday and said that “people’s lives could be lost” if the party did not take a stand.

Responding to his actions, a Labour Party spokesperson said: "The Labour Party will always stand up for working people fighting for better pay, terms and conditions at work.

"This isn't about appearing on a picket line. Members of the frontbench sign up to collective responsibility.

“That includes media appearances being approved and speaking to agreed frontbench positions.

"As a government-in-waiting, any breach of collective responsibility is taken extremely seriously and for these reasons Sam Tarry has been removed from the frontbench."

Mr Tarry was joined at the picket line 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.

He said: “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.”

Mr Tarry told Sky News he is “not defying anybody”, but is supporting “40,000 low-paid transport workers”.

He later tweeted a photo that said he was “on the side of the members not the establishment”.

Shadow ministers who attended picket lines during the last strike in June received a warning but avoided the sack.

Brent Central MP Dawn Butler, Birmingham Hall Green MP Tahir Ali and South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck were among those sharing photos of themselves on social media from picket lines.

In a statement, Mr Tarry said: “These key workers kept our train services running throughout the pandemic, and were among Britain’s Covid heroes alongside the NHS and other public services.

“Those same workers have been forced to take action because they’re faced with a cost-of-living crisis and rampant inflation caused by the Government’s mismanagement of our economy, leaving millions struggling to pay their bills and provide for their families, made worse by the fact that callous and incompetent ministers refuse to even negotiate with their trade unions.

“This dispute would not be taking place under a Labour government, which would ensure that rail workers receive a fair wage.

“It has been a privilege to serve on Labour’s frontbench for the past two years and to have had the opportunity to speak up for hard-pressed workers who deserve so much better than the treatment they’ve received from this corrupt and out-of-touch Government.

“I remain committed to supporting the striking rail workers, and campaigning for a Labour victory at the next general election, which I will fight for relentlessly from the backbenches.”

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