It’s time to express support for the strikes

Thursday, 23rd June

TUC demo - Members of Camden NEU

Members of Camden NEU march through Piccadilly Circus at the weekend

• THIS week has seen the biggest national rail strike in 30 years, with some 40,000 railway workers striking over threats to their jobs, their pay, their benefits, and their pensions.

In addition to this, the Tory government is trying to cut more than £2billion from the railways, something that raises real safety concerns for workers and passengers alike.

Against this backdrop, the country is facing a real cost of living crisis with inflation forecast to hit 11 per cent later this year.

Making ends meet is becoming harder and harder for everyone. It is therefore understandable that railway workers want to fight for their rights at work and for their pay to keep up with rising living costs.

They are not alone either. Teachers and National Health Service staff are now considering strike action in the autumn too.

So I want to express my support for this week’s strikes and my solidarity with all workers whose pay is failing to keep up with rising costs.

Our public infra-structure and the key workers who keep the country running must be properly funded for our society to operate effectively.

Let me be clear: the reason for these strikes is the Tory government’s arrogance. It has repeatedly refused to deliver a negotiated settlement to the dispute by ignoring pleas from unions to meet them to help deliver a fair resolution.

However I was extremely shocked to learn this week that Sir Keir Starmer has banned Labour front-benchers from joining the picket lines in solidarity with the railway workers.

The Labour Party was founded by the trade union movement, and defending workers and labour is – or at least was – one of its key principles.

Indeed when Sir Keir stood for the Labour leadership in 2020 he described himself as a “proud trade unionist”, while his seventh leadership pledge was to “strengthen workers’ rights and trade unions”.

This is why I am bitterly disappointed that the Labour Party is turning its back on its core values and the workers that need our support now more than ever.

I therefore truly hope that my former Camden Labour colleagues will join me in expressing support for the strikes and in condemning the actions of both the Tory government and Labour leadership for not standing up for workers.

LORNA JANE RUSSELL
Former Green Party
Camden councillor

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