Angela Rayner tore into the rail companies during her interview with the Today programme on Tuesday
Angela Rayner has defended the rail workers’ unions which will be striking over Christmas by pointing out that the “system is completely broken”.
Speaking the day after the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union announced further strikes from Christmas Eve until December 27, the deputy Labour leader suggested the poor service from rail companies is “costing the northern economy”.
She told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme that RMT’s general secretary Mick Lynch was doing a “good job” for his members, trying to negotiate better pay, job security and improved working conditions.
“Anyone who has watched an interview can see the frustration that Mick Lynch has witnessed trying to get around the table and resolve the issue.
“It’s so frustrating what’s happening on our railways at the moment – even without the strikes – these companies are not delivering on their contracts, and the system is completely broken.”
Rayner also pointed out that the unions “want to find a resolution”, while the “companies do not suffer any financial loss whatsoever for their incompetence”, as they are compensated by the government.
“It is the workers who are taking industrial action who are losing pay, so it’s not an easy decision for them to make, and it is the public who are inconvenienced because they can’t get a train.”
She said herself that she has to “pray” that her trains will turn up on time, and she’ll get to her destination.
The MP for Ashton-under-Lyne said: “That’s costing the northern economy in particular because the rail network’s so poor.
“This is a bigger, wider issue and the government has failed to deliver and make those companies deliver on their contracts outside of industrial action.
“It doesn’t surprise me that they’re not able to get a deal at the moment, because they’ve shown their sheer incompetence.”
By backing the disruptive industrial action, Rayner’s words were much stronger from the position held by her party’s leader Keir Starmer on Tuesday.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Monday: “Both sides need to compromise, both sides need to finish the negotiations and the government needs to drive them forward.”
The new strike action is on top of the already announced walkouts planned on December 13-14 and 16-17.
The union has confirmed it will put the latest offer from Network Rail to its members, while advising them to reject it.
Lynch said on Monday that it was unfortunate that the union had been “compelled to take this action due to the continuing intransigence of the employers”.
He added: “We remain available for talks in order to resolve these issues but we will not bow to pressure from the employers and the government to the detriment of our members.”