Labor frontbenchers risk being sacked if they participate in rail strike picket lines

Labor frontbenchers risk being sacked if they show up on picket lines during this week’s rail strikes, HuffPost UK has learned.

Members of the RMT union will stage three walkouts in a dispute over jobs, wages and conditions, with the first taking place tomorrow.

“Conservatives called the industrial action ‘labour strikes’ because of the party’s close ties to the labor movement.

In response, Labor accused the government of not doing enough to avert the strike by facilitating an agreement between employers and unions.

An email from Keir Starmer’s office to shadow cabinet members inviting them to a Zoom meeting on the strikes said: “We do not want these strikes to continue with the resulting disruption to the public.”

The message added: ‘However, we must also show leadership and to that end, remember that senior MPs, including [parliamentary private secretaries] should not be on the picket lines.

“Please speak to everyone on your team to remind them of this and confirm with me that you have done so.”

A member of the shadow cabinet told HuffPost UK: “It’s a sensible decision given that the Tories want to blame us for their failures. We must not fall into their trap.

But the decision provoked a furious reaction from unions and leftist MPs.

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham tweeted: ‘Labour was founded by unions and we expect Labor MPs to stand up for working people, in words and in deeds. Ordering Labor MPs not to be on picket lines with workers says a lot

“You don’t lead by hiding. Nobody respects that. It’s time to decide which side you’re on. Workers or bad bosses?

Manuel Cortes, General Secretary of the TSSA, tweeted: “Ridiculous nonsense from the Party that was created by the unions. Solidarity is the raison d’être of our movement!

Meanwhile, Labor MP Kate Osborne – a private parliamentary secretary to Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Kyle – has vowed to take her place on a picket line.

A Labor Party spokesman said: “Labour has made it clear that these strikes must not take place. Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps did not lift a finger to avoid them and played politics rather than doing their job.

A party source added: “When the public is unsettled for the rest of the week, people will be clear who is responsible.”

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