Khan won't join RMT picket line as he calls on Government to end dispute

28 June 2022, 21:20 | Updated: 29 June 2022, 09:06

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan praised trade unions as a "remarkable force for good" but stopped short of saying he would join RMT workers on the picket line.

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The most significant period of industrial action in Britain for decades is unfolding, with public transport up and down the country set for more disruption in the coming months.

Some 40,000 RMT union members working on the country's railways walked out on three days last week in a dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

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Mr Khan said during the State on London Debate, hosted by LBC's James O'Brien: "No trade union wants to strike, no worker wants to strike, it's because they're at the end of their tether that they decided to strike.

"When you speak to the RMT the reason they're striking now is because they're concerned about government conditions because we have been working collegiately with the trade unions.

"By the way, the trade unions worked incredibly well with us during the pandemic to make sure public transport was safe for workers but also for Londoners.

"I'm a big fan of trade unions, I think they've been a remarkable force for good and that's why it's really important for Grant Shapps, Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak not engineer strikes this summer but to listen and engage with them and us to avoid strike action."

But Mr Khan stopped short of saying he would join RMT members on the picket line, saying: "I have attended picket lines in the past, I would attend picket lines in the future, on the particular strike the RMT have conducted in relation to pensions I wouldn't."

He said the concerns of the union were "in relation to their conditions being unilaterally changed as a result of the Shapps, Johnson, Sunak conditions".

He continued: "RMT, Aslef, Unite, TSSA and the other trade unions have worked incredibly hard over the last two-and a-half-years during the pandemic and I think the way to reward them isn't to treat them like the Government has and it's really important for Londoners not to be caught in the crossfire."

Mr Khan said he feared if the Government continues to behave "in the next few weeks as they have in the last few weeks" there could be more strike action, but added he hoped the Government would "see sense".