‘Stick your neck out! You’re scared’ Thornberry blasted for refusing to condemn strikes

Emily Thornberry told to ’stick neck out’ over train strikes

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Emily Thornberry was put on the spot over the former Shadow Foreign Secretary’s refusal to condemn planned strikes by the RMT transport union which is set to bring havoc to Britain’s rail network. Ms Thornberry was also grilled over Labour’s stance on the industrial action with the Labour frontbencher challenged over whether the party was “scared” to be seen to be supporting the strikers. 

Sky’s Anna Jones asked the Labour MP: “I am interested to know why you won’t stick your neck out on a position on backing the strikers or not.

“Is the Labour Party just scared of offending some sections of society?”

Ms Thornberry hit back: “I’m taking an overview, so during the pandemic, because so many of the railways were dependent, obviously on the fares and people weren’t travelling on the trains, it means that many of the railway companies don’t have sufficient income.

“They are using that much as I was saying about British Airways. I think that they are they’re oversteering in the wrong direction. They’re trying to cut back on routes they’re trying to cut back on employees and they’re not prepared to increase wages.”

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She added: “That then means that you have to take a strategic view of this, which is what the job of government is, the Government should be taking a strategic view of what is the what is best for all of us when it comes to our railway system and not spending time having a pop at the Labour Party.”

Meanwhile, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has warned the rail strikes will “endanger the jobs of thousands of workers.”

The Cabinet minister issued a direct plea to those embarking on three days of walkouts next week, stating that they “risk striking yourselves out of a job”.

He also stated that the Government plans to introduce legislation to enable the use of agency workers on the railways during industrial action “if the strike drags on”.

 

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In a speech at a train depot in north London, Mr Shapps said the strikes would be “damaging” for railway workers and their families.

He told the audience: “These strikes are not only a bid to derail reforms that are critical to the network’s future, and designed to inflict damage at the worst possible time, they are also an incredible act of self-harm by the union leadership.”

He said the railway was “in a fight” as it was competing against remote working and other forms of public and private transport.

“We’re going to endanger the jobs of thousands of rail workers,” he claimed.

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“The last thing the railway should be doing right now.

“It’s alienating its passengers and the freight customers with long and damaging strikes.”

Mr Shapps denied that his comments on jobs were “a threat”, describing them as a “statement of the reality”.

“Don’t jeopardise the railways, and therefore by definition, the jobs that come from the railways,” he said.

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