Government accused of ‘pouring petrol on the fire’ as UK braces for rail strikes

rail strikes

Ministers ‘want the country to grind to a halt so they can feed off the division’, Keir Starmer claims (Picture: PA/REX)

The government has been accused of ‘pouring petrol on the fire’ by boycotting negotiations before the ‘biggest rail strike in modern history’.

Millions of people will have their plans disrupted this week – including schoolchildren travelling to exams, patients heading to hospital appointments and festival-goers going to Glastonbury.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has accused the Tories of ‘wanting the country to grind to a halt so they can feed off the division’ after ministers admitted the last time they met with union officials was 13 May.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has insisted he can’t take part in pay dispute discussions as it is a matter between employers and unions – despite admitting that the government controls the purse strings after the Covid lockdown.

In a speech in Warwick today, the opposition leader will criticise the Conservatives for their ‘lack of action’ after it was confirmed yesterday that a bitter row over pay, potential job losses and conditions had not been resolved.

‘Businesses will struggle with freight. School exams will be hard to get to. Hospital appointments missed. That’s why I have said the strikes should not go ahead’, Sir Keir will say. 

‘But here’s the truth, Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps want the strikes to go ahead.’

‘They want the country to grind to a halt so they can feed off the division.

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The biggest strikes in decades will take place from Tuesday this week (Picture: Guy Bell/REX/Shutterstock)

‘Instead of spending their time this week around the negotiating table, they are designing attack ads.

‘Instead of grown-up conversations to take the heat out of the situation, they are pouring petrol on the fire.

‘Instead of bringing people together in the national interest, they are stoking division in their political interest.’

He will claim that his party ‘seeks common endeavour for common cause, partnership to bring people together, to solve problems and grasp opportunities’.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union offered to hold sit-down talks with the government this week.

Some train companies have still not invited workers for talks or made pay offers ahead of strikes, the general secretary of the RMT union said today.

Mick Lynch said: ‘We’re looking for a pay rise that reflects the cost of living.’

Mr Shapps dodged questions on job cuts this morning, insisting the workforce needs to be ‘reshaped’.

…read more

Source:: Metro


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