Rail strikes: Mick Lynch says he 'doesn't want' action over Christmas

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The Labour leader and his deputy, Angela Rayner, have refused to condemn militant union barons intent on wreaking havoc this Christmas.

Electoral Commission records of party donations released yesterday show 57 percent of its donations came from unions once taxpayer funding was excluded.

Conservative Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi said Sir Keir must show whose side he is on.

“Keir Starmer needs to stop sitting on the fence and grow a backbone – he’s either backing the militant union barons who line the pockets of his Party or he condemns these unjustified strikes causing misery for millions,” he said. 

“Spineless Keir Starmer refuses to condemn militant strikes wrecking Christmas because he’s in hock to his union baron paymasters propping up the Labour Party’s coffers. 

“He’s too weak to stand up to them and too weak to take the tough decisions needed for the country.”

Downing Street insisted it is planning to bring in a new law to require minimum service levels on the railways.

But the legislation will be too late to avert a run of industrial action planned by the RMT over the next few weeks.

General secretary Mick Lynch is pressing ahead with the strikes, including a last minute extra walkout that starts on Christmas eve.

He said: “The strikes are going ahead because we haven’t had no meetings so far, so we’re hoping to go over to the Rail Delivery Group in the morning.”

Business leaders have warned the action will have a devastating impact on struggling firms hoping to make the most of the festive season after two years of pandemic shutdowns.

UK Hospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “These further rail strikes will be hugely damaging for hospitality businesses, their workers and their customers as it seems almost guaranteed that we will be facing a heavily disrupted Christmas for the third year in a row.

“Our estimate of the cost of these strikes already stood at £1.5 billion in lost sales and it’s incredibly frustrating that a solution has yet to be reached to avoid this disruption during the golden month of trade for our sector.

“We’re continuing to urge all parties involved in the negotiations to reach a solution imminently to avoid these harmful strikes.”

Professor Len Shackleton, from the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “The union leadership seems inclined to continue strike action well into next year and it seems unlikely that the government is willing to budge.

“The disputes are not just inflicting short-term misery on rail users, but are surely damaging the industry’s long-term prospects – which means job cuts further down the line. Sooner or later union members are going to get worried about this.

“They will also be worried by the continuing costs in terms of pay lost during strikes. Assuming their employers have made appropriate deductions for strike days, I calculate that RMT members will have lost about five percent of their pay this year, a sizeable chunk when set against the likely gains from any marginally enhanced settlement.

“It may be that continuing loss of pay and fear for jobs will begin to erode support for further strike action in the New Year. Christmas rail chaos may be the RMT’s last hurrah.”

Here is a breakdown of the the funding Labour takes from its trade union paymasters between July and September and the strike action planned:

Unite – £729,000  

NHS strike: Balloting its 10,000 members in the NHS for strike action with walkouts possible in January.

Bus strikes: Seven days of strike action in December on London buses this month.

Heathrow strike: Unite has announced strike action from ground handlers at Heathrow on 16 December for 72 hours.

Ambulance strike: Strike announced for December 21.

Beer strike: Unite announced five days of December strike action at Greene King that began on December 5.

GMB – £293,000

NHS and ambulance workers strike on December 21: Coordinating action with Unite.

CWU – £109,000  

Postal strike: Series of strikes in Royal Mail over December, including December 9/11/14/15/23/24.

Unison – £207,000  

NHS and ambulance strikes: coordinating action with Unite and GMB on December 21.

ASLEF – £26,000

Train strikes: Aslef took strike action on the railways in November.

Fire Brigades Union – £11,000 

Fire strike: The FBU are balloting members for strike action.

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