'Public support us': Militant RMT boss Mick Lynch claims ahead of fresh train strikes

14 July 2022, 09:14 | Updated: 14 July 2022, 09:28

Mick Lynch said the public backs the RMT rail strikes
Mick Lynch said the public backs the RMT rail strikes. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Will Taylor

The public is supportive of the RMT's rail strikes, the union's boss Mick Lynch has claimed.

Speaking after announcing another day of action that will cause widespread disruption on Britain's train lines, he claimed he regularly gets people approaching him to encourage him in his fight against rail firms.

Members of his union are due to walk out on July 27 in a dispute over pay and conditions, just weeks after their three days of action in June left about a fifth of all rail services running and half of the lines closing down.

Asked about public support on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Mr Lynch said: "I've got people coming up to me on the street when I'm travelling around London and all around the country saying 'good on you, we need to fight back and get a decent deal for working class people in this country'."

Asked if he took criticism from people, he said: "Not very frequently, it's far more outweighed by people giving our members goodwill and turning up at our picket lines and at our demonstrations that support us."

Lynch: Public support striking rail workers

He told Nick that the public was "certainly" supportive during the June strikes and some people had donated on the picket lines, while even the "travelling public" had backed the union's action.

The RMT has rejected Network Rail's most recent pay offer, describing it as "paltry".

It would have seen members get a pay rise of 4%, backdated to January, along with a 2% rise next year and a further 2% if "modernisation milestones" are reached.

Read more: National rail strike to go ahead this month in ongoing dispute over pay, RMT announces

Train firms have voiced concerns that steps need to be taken to set up the future of rail travel in the UK, with increased working from home threatening the commute.

The RMT also complained it had not been given a pay offer or guarantees about job losses from train companies.

Mr Lynch wants a higher level of wage rises to prevent workers being left out of pocket by inflation.

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said previously: "It is incredibly frustrating the RMT has again chosen to disrupt our passengers, and even more so that they haven't even put what was a fair and affordable two-year pay offer to their members.

Mick Lynch's RMT union has announced another rail strike
Mick Lynch's RMT union has announced another rail strike. Picture: Getty

"It is also deeply worrying that these strikes have clearly been designed to disrupt spectators heading to the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on 28 July, an event of huge national significance.

"We have been clear that we can only fund an increase from our own budgets, and the only way we can afford that is by modernising working practices.

"The RMT's rejection of our latest offer can only mean they want a pay increase to be funded either by more taxpayer support or higher passenger fares, neither of which we think are fair."

Read more: More travel chaos expected as train drivers vote to strike over pay dispute

Mr Lynch said the strike action would take place the day before the Commonwealth Games because legislation restricted the dates they could strike, and they did not want to cause disruption during the competition.

He added that he believed the public was "sick and tired" of transport secretary Grant Shapps.

Asked about the Tory leadership contest, he said he hoped for an election and a Labour government, and said some candidates had laid out "extreme right wing politics".

He mocked Mr Shapps' failed bid to take the leadership, saying he should have spent more time on the pay problem.

"He spent 20 minutes on his campaign and that collapsed," he said.