Grant Shapps has slammed the unions behind the widespread protests
Grant Shapps has just lashed out at the unions behind the strikes, accusing them of “grandstanding” and causing “maximum disruption” to hard working people.
He was heavily criticised during his time as transport secretary under Boris Johnson for refusing to get involved with negotiations between the rail companies and the unions.
But, speaking to Sky News on Monday, he still dismissed the idea that the government needs to get involved.
He said both of his successors have tried to talk to unions, “but that doesn’t seem to have stopped them from announcing a whole new set of strikes”.
Shapps said: “That brings a lie to the idea that if only we sat down and spoke, this would all be over, as the unions have been claiming, that is simply not true, as the unions are still striking.”
He claimed the only way for it to be resolved was for the rail company’s management and the unions to negotiate.
Presenter Kay Burley asked: “On the contrary, if you had sat down and talked to the unions, perhaps we wouldn’t bee in this position?”
She added: “Why is the current transport secretary saying he will sit down and talk to them and you just didn’t want to entertain them, you said?”
Mark Harper seems to have adopted a more conciliatory tactic throughout the industrial action, saying ministers need to take a “grown up” approach and a “beer and sandwiches” charm offensive.
In contrast, Shapps claimed this week: “I have spoken to Mick Lynch in the past as the boss of the RMT, but it just doesn’t seem to resolve it one way or the other.”
Only in August, Lynch said Shapps was “pedalling baloney” with his claims about what workers had been offered in negotiations, and accused him of trying to make “industrial action illegal”.
The business secretary also told Sky News on Monday: “It transpires it doesn’t matter which way you go around this – the unions seem absolutely intent on causing the maximum disruption to hardworking people in this country, it’s time for them to stop grandstanding and get this thing settled.”
He claimed there were plenty of modernisations in the rail company which could help cover any pay increases, but “they don’t want to modernise, they want to stay stuck in the 1970s or before”.
“That’s a great shame because it’s costing all passengers due to this intransigence.”
Both Harper and Shapps have claimed that pay rises could be paid for if rail employees accept reforms to the industry.