'They're laughing in our faces': Fury as rail union bosses have Christmas lunch with Labour MPs ahead of week of strikes

4 December 2023, 09:21 | Updated: 4 December 2023, 10:23

Rail bosses gathered for a Christmas lunch ahead of this week's strikes
Rail bosses gathered for a Christmas lunch ahead of this week's strikes. Picture: Social media

By Emma Soteriou

Rail union bosses have sparked fury after holding a Christmas lunch with Labour MPs ahead of a week of strike action.

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Aslef chief Mick Whelan was among more than 100 members and Labour MPs who attended the Christmas bash at the Earl of Doncaster Hotel.

He gave a speech at the event, which was attended by Labour MPs Kate Osborne, Ian Lavery, Grahame Morris and Ian Mearns.

Ms Osborne praised the "wonderful" event where she celebrated with her "comrades".

"Thanks to Doncaster, Mick Whelan and Nigel Roebuck for the invite to speak last night," she said.

"Great to be with @ASLEF comrades in a wonderful Christmas venue and solidarity to all those taking strike action today.

"Lovely to have the 3 wise men Grahame Morris, Ian Lavery and Ian Mearns at the table - even if Lavery cheated with the Christmas cracker!"

Labour receives funding from Aslef as an affiliate.

Read more: Will your train journey be affected over the Christmas period? December strikes explained

Read more: Sunak and Starmer both refuse to commit to triple-lock continuing after next election

It comes as commuters have shared their outrage over strike action set to take place this week.

Train drivers across England started a week-long ban on overtime on Friday, also disrupting services.

Passengers on Monday were complaining of both reduced and cancelled services with crowded carriages.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "While Aslef bosses have lavish parties with Labour MPs, they remain intent on causing more disruption with strikes targeting working people who could only dream of a train driver’s salary north of £60,000."

Tory MP Greg Smith claimed bosses were "laughing in our faces at swanky dinners".

A source told the Sun: "It was their Christmas party. They were having a very good time."

But Aslef said it could not be considered a party as "there was no music, no disco, no karaoke, and no dancing".

"It was an annual lunch to commemorate those people we have lost in the last 12 months and to look ahead to what we hope to achieve in the next year," the union said.

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