Sir Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson and the transport secretary Grant Shapps of “stoking divisions” over nationwide rail strikes set to happen this week.
The Labour chief will accuse the federal government of “pouring petrol on the fire” over its dealing with of the dispute with unions, as a substitute of making an attempt to take the warmth out of the row.
His remarks come after the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) confirmed on Saturday the strike motion would go forward after the failure of talks to resolve a bitter dispute over employees’ situations.
Union members at Network Rail and 13 prepare operators will stage 24-hour walkouts on 21, 23 and 25 June, with disruption additionally potential for the remainder of the week. There may even be industrial motion on London Underground companies on 21 June.
Over the weekend, the chief govt of the trade group UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls, prompt the tourism, leisure and theatre industries have been “looking at an economic hit of over a billion pounds”.
In a speech to the Labour Local Government Association convention, Sir Keir will declare the prime minister and Mr Shapps “want the strikes to go ahead”, including: “They want the country to grind to a halt so they can feed off the division.”
Referencing adverts posted by the Conservatives labelling the economic motion “Labour’s strikes”, Sir Keir will say: “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 add: “Businesses will struggle with freight. School exams will be hard to get to. Hospital appointments [will be] missed. That’s why I’ve said the strikes should not go ahead.”
Confirming the strike motion would go forward, RMT basic secretary Mick Lynch mentioned on Saturday: “Despite the best efforts of our negotiators, no viable settlements to the disputes have been created.”
He added: “It has to be restated that the source of these disputes is the decision by the Tory government to cut £4bn of funding from our transport systems – £2bn from national rail and £2bn from Transport for London.
“As a result of this transport austerity imposed by the government, the employing companies have taken decisions to savage the Railways Pension Scheme and the Transport for London scheme, cutting benefits, making staff work longer and poorer in retirement, while paying increased contributions.”
Ahead of the strikes, nevertheless, Mr Shapps issued a press release saying the federal government had repeatedly urged the RMT to not press forward with the strike motion, which can “cause misery” for the general public.
He added: “Many people who do not get paid if they can’t get to work face losing money at a time they simply can’t afford to. Children sitting exams will face the extra distraction of changing their travel plans. And vulnerable people trying to attend long-awaited hospital appointments may have no choice but to cancel.
“By carrying out this action, the RMT is punishing millions of innocent people, instead of calmly discussing the sensible and necessary reforms we need to make in order to protect our rail network.”
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