Jeremy Corbyn indicated his backing for the Southern Rail strike today as union leaders called for fresh to talks to solve a separate dispute on London’s tube system.
Corbyn spoke out on behalf of workers on the troubled London to Brighton line as members of the Aslef and Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) unions began a series of three walkouts planned for this week. Three more are planned for later in January.
When asked by the BBC if he would join the Southern Rail picket line, Corbyn said: “Yes I would because I think Southern Rail have behaved in a terrible manner and the government seem to be more interested in protecting Southern Rail despite its appalling service and shortage of trains, overcrowding and all that goes with it and continued allowing them to run the franchise on Southern.
“I would want that franchise brought back into public ownership and public sector because after all we provide the rails, we provide the trains and they make the profit from running them.”
The Labour leader was speaking after a separate 24-hour stoppage on London’s tube network, which concluded last night. He called for more negotiations on the dispute in the capital, between trade unions and Transport for London – but refused to echo the criticisms made by London mayor Sadiq Khan who described the walkout as “totally unnecessary” and provoking “misery” for passengers.
Corbyn’s interview came as the general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) called for further talks with tube bosses “without delay”.