WHAT planet is left-wing firebrand Angela Rayner living on?
In a bizarre statement yesterday about the dramatic escalation in rail strikes over the festive period, the Labour Deputy Leader said that militant union boss Mick Lynch has been “incredibly reasonable” during the dispute.
4Mick Lynch and his cronies at the Rail, Maritime and Transport union are ruthlessly using their muscle to inflict widespread misery for their own selfish endsCredit: PA4What planet is left-wing firebrand Angela Rayner living on? The Labour Deputy Leader said militant union boss Mick Lynch has been ‘incredibly reasonable’ during the disputeCredit: Getty Images – GettyShe could not be more deluded. Far from showing any restraint, Mick Lynch and his cronies at the Rail, Maritime and Transport union are ruthlessly using their muscle to inflict widespread misery for their own selfish ends.
Their methods are as cruel as their timing. Christmas is meant to be the season of goodwill, but for the cynical bullies of the RMT it is an opportunity to hold the British public to ransom and blackmail the train companies.
Lynch is a throwback to the dark days of the 1970s, when the union bosses brought the country to a halt with their extravagant pay demands and addiction to stoppages.
His entire approach is built on deceit and contempt. Only a few weeks ago, in an attempt to give the illusion of conciliation, he promised there would be no industrial action over Christmas.
Now, without a shred of justification, he has gone back on his word. Just as misleading are his empty expressions of regret over the impact of walkouts, claiming the RMT has been “compelled” to take this drastic course by the stubbornness of management and the Government.
His argument is worthless. The strikes are entirely of his union’s making, and those who suffer most from his militancy are ordinary workers who have to struggle to their jobs or cannot see their families over Christmas because of the RMT.
I hope he reads the stories of such people on this page.
At a time when the country is in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis, the pig-headedness of the union is causing real damage, especially to the hospitality sector, for which this is the busiest time of the year.
It is estimated that next week’s strikes alone will cost the economy £1.7billion. Some employees understandably fear losing their livelihoods as a result of business failures and cutbacks caused by the irresponsibility of Lynch’s mob.
The union’s pose as a warrior against oppression would be laughable if it were not so offensive. With a median salary of £44,000, railway workers are far better rewarded than most other occupations, and have longer holidays, shorter hours, more job security and far bigger pensions.
The pay offer that Lynch has just rejected could hardly be called derisory, given that it proposes a five per cent increase backdated to January, four per cent next year, plus other perks.
The union is also ferocious in its resistance to badly needed change across the network. Suspicious of new technology, the RMT has battled to keep inflexible practices from the age of steam.
This is why neither the Government nor the train operators should cave in to Lynch. Without real reform, any lavish new pay settlement would just be money down the drain. Soon the RMT militants would be back for more.
The best hope for their defeat is that the tide of public opinion turns against them. This week’s announcement of a new wave of strikes may help to achieve just that.
‘INDUSTRY NEEDS A BREAK’PARTY organisers Kamran Dehdashti and Jamie Hazeel have already lost £50,000 from customers cancelling parties due to train strikes.
The pair operate Little Door, which has four venues in London specialising in house and dinner parties.
Kamran says: “Christmas is absolutely massive for us. The four weeks from the end of November to December 18 is huge. The staff rely on tips and the double shift rates they can get too. It really is a vital time for our industry.
“I understand the reasons behind the strike but the timing really bothers me. It’s one thing to support them striking, but when it affects everyone else so badly it’s different.
“This industry just needs a break. There were days we had bookings for hundreds of people that are now blank.”
‘Parties are cancelling’
4The Valley curry house is on the railway station at Corbridge, Northumberland, and the rail strike has seen many parties cancelling bookingsCredit: North News & Pictures, NewcastleDARAZ AZIZ owns The Valley curry house on the railway station at Corbridge, Northumberland, and the rail strike has brought its darkest days in 30 years.
The restaurant is known for its Passage To India excursions from Newcastle Central station, where diners are greeted on the platform by waiters and order as they travel to the restaurant.
More than half his customers arrive by train and many have already cancelled parties because of the strike.
Daraz, 66, says: “We had many large parties booked in for December that have now been forced to cancel, and it is only going to get worse.
“We’ve been in business since 1991 and this is the hardest time we’ve experienced. It really is worrying and very disappointing.”
‘ACTION PUTS OFF SHOPPERS’INDEPENDENT toy shop QT Toys is near Britain’s busiest station, London’s Clapham Junction, where it has been operating since 1983.
Sales supervisor Josh Jewkes, 32, says: “We were all in it together in Covid and I’d like to think we’re all together still now, but the strikes just seem unfair and considerate to others.
“It’s frustrating that everything’s going to grind to a halt and people will suffer as a result. Trade will unfortunately be affected. The strikes have a particular impact on businesses near Clapham Junction as it is such a busy train station.
“We were hoping that after Covid limited movement last Christ-mas, we could now be back to normal. But people were already tentative about spending, and now train strikes will put them off shopping.”
‘A third of takings lost’
4’When there is a strike, people don’t come in and we lose around a third of our takings, which has a huge impact on us,’ says pub host Sam OmerodPUB hosts Robb and Sam Ormerod have run the Beer Shack in Clitheroe, Lancs, since April, and rail strike days cut their takings by a third.
The pair take around £60,000 a year in wages from the pub – the average salary of a train driver.
Robb, 45, says: “The weekend strikes affect us hardest. Every time a train pulls into the station, we have a burst of people coming in for a drink, and the weekends are when we make the most money.
“We get customers travelling in from all around the North West, which is what we need, as we can’t survive on local trade.
“When there is a strike, people don’t come in and we lose around a third of our takings, which has a huge impact on us.
“It affects all the small businesses, from market traders to the small shops.”
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk