'Dozens will be sacked': Tarry warns Labour are on 'direct collision course' with unions

27 July 2022, 17:20 | Updated: 27 July 2022, 20:01

Sam Tarry appeared on the picket line
Sam Tarry appeared on the picket line. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

"Dozens and dozens of shadow ministers will be sacked" over Labour's rail picket line spat, former shadow minister Sam Tarry has warned.

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Mr Tarry was sacked after he joined striking rail workers at the picket line at London's Euston station on Wednesday morning.

Speaking to LBC following his removal, Mr Tarry said: "If [the strikes aren't] tackled properly, there's going to be a real danger that it won't just be me that's sacked, I think you'll see dozens and dozens of shadow ministers sacked across the whole country."

He went on to say: "Across the Labour Party we're going to see an awful lot of anger about what's gone on today. It was avoidable, it was unnecessary."

Mr Tarry also revealed he had received calls from seven union general secretaries - six of which being affiliated with Labour - saying they were "fuming" about him being sacked.

He said they were on a "direct collision course with the Labour party leadership" over the incident.

When asked whether Labour leader Sir Keir was doing a good job running the party, Mr Tarry refused to be drawn, insisting he is "doing the best job he can".

However, he said he believed he would not have been sacked under Tony Blair, saying Sir Keir has a "far worse" relationship with the unions than he did.

Mr Tarry also confirmed that he had spoken to the party leader about his actions, with Sir Keir believing he had "over-stepped the mark".

Read more: Summer of train strikes to get worse as militant drivers union votes for further walkout

Read more: RMT boss accused of blocking 8% deal says it ‘doesn’t come close’ as strikes cripple UK

Labour said the MP had been "removed from the frontbench" but denied that it was due to his appearance during the strikes.

The party claimed the decision was connected to Mr Tarry making media appearances without it being approved.

A spokesperson said: "The Labour Party will always stand up for working people fighting for better pay, terms and conditions at work.

"This isn't about appearing on a picket line. Members of the frontbench sign up to collective responsibility. That includes media appearances being approved and speaking to agreed frontbench positions.

"As a government-in-waiting, any breach of collective responsibility is taken extremely seriously and for these reasons Sam Tarry has been removed from the frontbench."

Sir Keir told his frontbenchers to stay away from the strikes after facing criticism when some joined protests earlier this summer.

Mr Tarry earlier told Sky News he was "not defying anybody" but instead supporting "40,000 low-paid transport workers".

He tweeted: "All across the country industrial disputes are breaking out because this Government doesn't care about working people in Britain.

"They've forced a decade of austerity on workers and aren't able to present serious offers to even match the level of inflation. #SupportRailWorkers"

Fourteen train operating companies took action on Wednesday in an ongoing row over pay, jobs and conditions.

A second strike is also due to take place on Saturday - with two more days of action planned to grind the country to a halt in August.

The RMT last night announced a third strike would also be taking place across the London Underground in August, meaning three gruelling consecutive days of travel hell for commuters.

Mr Tarry said in a statement that he was "proud" to stand with rail workers.

He said: "These key workers kept our train services running throughout the pandemic, and were among Britain's Covid heroes alongside the NHS and other public services.

"Those same workers have been forced to take action because they're faced with a cost-of-living crisis and rampant inflation caused by the government's mismanagement of our economy, leaving millions struggling to pay their bills and provide for their families, made worse by the fact that callous and incompetent ministers refuse to even negotiate with their trade unions.

"This dispute would not be taking place under a Labour government, which would ensure that rail workers receive a fair wage.

"It has been a privilege to serve on Labour's frontbench for the past two years and to have had the opportunity to speak up for hard-pressed workers who deserve so much better than the treatment they've received from this corrupt and out-of-touch government.

"I remain committed to supporting the striking rail workers, and campaigning for a Labour victory at the next general election, which I will fight for relentlessly from the backbenches."

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