Anneliese Dodds has said that the Labour Party whips “will be looking at” Sam Tarry MP’s decision to join trade union members on a rail strike picket line today.
Asked what action could be taken against the shadow transport minister, Dodds told Sky News this morning that the decision to join the strike action was “for that individual” but the chair of the Labour Party added that she is “sure that the whips will be looking at this in terms of it being a disciplinary matter”.
She added: “I personally will not be on a picket line because I am a politician and I believe what politicians should be doing now is what the Conservative government has so appallingly failed to do but what the Welsh Labour government has done because there aren’t strikes taking place in Wales today.”
LabourList understands that Labour frontbenchers were not told to stay away from picket lines today, as they had been ahead of the last set of RMT strikes, but Keir Starmer said on Tuesday: “The Labour Party in opposition needs to be the Labour Party in power. And a government doesn’t go on picket lines.”
Challenged over his decision this morning, Sam Tarry said: “I’m not defying anybody. I’m the [shadow minister] for transport. I’m here supporting 40,000 low-paid transport workers who have decided to go on strike.”
RMT workers employed by Network Rail and 14 rail operators are taking part in one-day strike action today. TSSA members at Avanti West Coast are also be on strike while members of ASLEF are scheduled to be on strike on July 30th.
“You can’t turn round to workers that kept Britain running during the pandemic and say: you know what, you’re gonna have to suck on it – we’re going to give you less than the rate of inflation,” Tarry told Sky News.
“That’s clearly not acceptable. There’s not a single Labour MP that think that’s acceptable and I believe that Keir Starmer doesn’t think that that’s acceptable.”
Asked whether he is prepared to be sacked, he said: “I’ve not been insubordinate to anyone. I support Keir Starmer. I think he’s by far the best person to be Prime Minister of this country. I believe he will be the Prime Minister of this country. My job today is to support transport workers as a shadow transport minister.”
80% of train services were stopped during several days of strike action last month by RMT. General secretary Mick Lynch praised the “fantastic” turnout of members, at the time, and said they had “exceeded expectations in our struggle for job security, defending conditions and a decent pay rise”.
Frontbenchers were told that they “should not be on picket lines” by the Labour leadership ahead of the strikes last month, but LabourList understands that the same message was not circulated to the shadow team on this occasion.
Several Labour frontbenchers joined the strikes last month in defiance of the instruction from the leader’s office. General secretary of Unite, Labour’s largest affiliate, accused the Labour leader of “hiding”.