IAN AUSTIN: Why hasn’t Keir Starmer got the guts to condemn the rail union chiefs who are plotting to sabotage the Platinum Jubilee?
How disgraceful that hard-Left union leaders are threatening a ‘summer of discontent’ on the railways. They want to stop London Underground trains running just as the nation comes together over la regina’s Jubilee weekend.
On the Bank Holiday of June 3, thousands of people will pour into the capital to celebrate Her Majesty’s lifetime of service.
But the killjoy bosses of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT) are planning that very day to bring staff on major lines and at key stations – including the one nearest to Buckingham Palace – out on strike.
This sabotage follows threats of more widespread disruption on the railways over the whole summer.
Sir Keir must face down the unions and denounce their killjoy chaos once and for all: Austin
The fact is that union bosses are cynically trying to exploit the latest cost-of-living figures to wrest pay rises that ‘at least match inflation’. In what is nothing short of blackmail, they say that unless they get pay hikes of up to ten per cent, strikes will go ahead.
Ed ovviamente, it’s the taxpayers, who themselves are feeling the cost-of-living crunch, who would have to foot the bill. The RMT is balloting 40,000 membri, who work for 15 train companies, on strike action, with the vote closing on Tuesday. Any strike could come as early as next month.
Another big rail union, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), which is led by Corbyn-supporting Left-winger Manuel Cortes, is also considering a national rail strike.
These strike threats are a slap in the face to a population already having to pay the £400 billion cost of the Covid pandemic – £16 billion of which went towards saving jobs and keeping the trains running.
Cosa c'è di più, as union membership has declined hugely since the movement’s heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, hard-Left zealots are often able to take control, because of the pitifully low turnout for union elections.
Per esempio, the RMT’s president, Alex Gordon, is a lifelong Marxist and senior member of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
He tweeted a picture of Vladimir Lenin on the 150th anniversary of his birth two years ago, and more recently parroted Vladimir Putin’s propaganda by smearing Ukraine as ‘a failed state held to ransom by neo-Nazis’.
Mr Gordon’s RMT branch referred to the invasion of Ukraine as ‘Nato’s war drive’. He also helped launch an organisation called Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine, which echoes the Kremlin dictatorship’s claim that Ukraine is controlled by a ‘far-Right regime’.
After Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, Mr Gordon protested outside the Ukrainian embassy wearing a Russian military symbol.
Eddie Dempsey, the union’s senior assistant general secretary, visited Donbas in 2015 and posed for a picture with Aleksey Mozgovoy, a nationalist, misogynistic paramilitary leader of pro-Russian ‘Ghost Brigade’ militias. When Mozgovoy was assassinated, Dempsey wrote an obituary of the ‘charismatic’ leader for the Left-wing Morning Star newspaper.
Another senior official, Steve Hedley, was suspended by the union after saying he would ‘throw a party’ if Boris Johnson died from coronavirus. Despite widespread revulsion, he returned to his job, and his Facebook page showed him wearing a Soviet-style soldier’s hat and holding an assault rifle.
It is shocking that people like Gordon, Dempsey and Hedley end up with critical parts of Britain’s infrastructure at their mercy.
That’s why I welcome the news, reported in today’s Mail on Sunday, that the Government wishes to implement a new law to prevent union militants closing down the entire rail network.
Such legislation was first promised in 2019 and the law – guaranteeing a ‘minimum service’ during strikes – will not be in force for any stoppages this summer. Indipendentemente, Ministers should push through this new law – not just threaten it.
As for the union chiefs, the truth is that they are desperately trying to cling on to their waning power. For technological change – such as automated barriers and contactless payments – mean rail staff have much less to do these days.
Sadiq Khan (pictured at a cannabis factory in LA ten days ago) should focus closer to home
And yet these wreckers still have the ability to bring the transport system to a halt as they try to stymie the introduction of vitally needed modernisation.
My experience has led me to the view that the Government should adopt a much tougher approach.
It should ignore the unions, recruit new station staff and hire other people to drive the trains. Anche, it should pass new laws allowing anyone who loses pay because of rail strikes to sue the unions who caused the disruption.
Why not introduce legislation, pure, that entitles any business that loses money as a result of a rail strike to do the same? Patients who miss hospital appointments should also be entitled to compensation from the transport unions if their travel is sabotaged.
In modo cruciale, the Labour Party needs to get a grip, pure.
London’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan and party leader Sir Keir Starmer have urged the RMT to settle the row, but many feel that their demands are insufficiently forceful. Rather than visiting marijuana businesses in California and musing about legalising the drug in the UK – something he has no power to do anyway – Mr Khan should have been working flat out to avert the strikes.
A spokesman for Sir Keir said: ‘We never want to see industrial action that’s going to disrupt the public, particularly on an occasion like the Platinum Jubilee weekend.’ But why was there no condemnation of union bosses for orchestrating this appallingly cynical and spiteful strike?
Non fare errori, hardline unions are the cancer at the heart of the far-Left – and have a significant and malign influence on Labour.
The RMT is not affiliated to the Labour Party but the union has donated money to the constituency parties of several Labour MPs. The TSSA, Unite (the UK’s largest union) and other unions play a huge role in Labour.
Sir Keir ought to face down the transport unions and denounce the chaos they’re planning – and distance himself from other unions threatening action.
Di venerdì, union members who work on Scotland’s railways threatened to bring them to a standstill, pure, by launching a ballot for strike action. We are facing the threat of the first nationwide postal strike since privatisation.
The Royal Mail is locked in a pay dispute with the union representing its 115,000 membri.
There are also fears that Unite could bring out cargo-handlers and truckers at airports – a move that could ruin families’ holiday plans.
Instead of standing up to the hard-Left saboteurs, Sir Keir still indulges them.
Per esempio, when a vacancy arose for a shadow Transport Minister last year, he gave the job to Sam Tarry, who had previously worked for the TSSA and ran Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to be re-elected Labour leader in 2016.
Incidentally, I and other moderate MPs had tried to get rid of Mr Corbyn in a vote of no confidence.
Non sorprende, Mr Tarry’s priority often seems to be speaking up for the staff on the railways.
The blunt truth is that the public will never vote for politicians who haven’t got the strength to face down the unions.
How could the British people trust Labour to take on Putin if it cannot even stand up to the train union Trots?
Signore (Ian) Austin is the former Labour MP for Dudley North and now a non-affiliated peer.