Keir Starmer is not on the side of workers, says RMT chief

·2 min read
Sir Keir Starmer - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Sir Keir Starmer - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Sir Keir Starmer is “not on the side of workers”, the head of a major rail union has said, as he suggested that other unions are considering their affiliation to Labour.

Mick Lynch, the general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union, said that Labour had lost touch with its support for working people under Sir Keir and had become a “bland democratic party”.

It followed an ultimatum by the union which could see mass strikes across the national rail network to cause disruption across the UK by mid-June.

He said that a lack of support by the Labour leader and his frontbench for pay rises for rail workers and those on precarious contracts was a “crisis” for Sir Keir.

Mr Lynch told Sky News: “This is a measure for [Sir] Keir Starmer so that he can decide whether he is on the side of the workers in this country or on the side of the bosses. He hasn’t made it clear at all.

“I’ve seen no response from the Labour frontbench which says ‘We support the workers in their struggles’. And that is the role of a Labour Party – the name gives it away – that they’re there to support the labour movement.”

Mick Lynch RMT - Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Mick Lynch RMT - Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Mr Lynch, who made almost £120,000 from the RMT in 2020, mentioned a dispute in Coventry as a key factor on his views on the Labour leader, where Unite members had been on strike for weeks over pay from the council.

Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary, told those on strike earlier this year that its entire financial contribution to the Labour Party was now “under review”.

On Sunday, she told the Financial Times that she was “certainly not doing repeat prescriptions” for the party’s finances.

Mr Lynch went further, suggesting that multiple trade unions were now asking themselves “what the point” of Sir Keir’s party is.

“My union isn’t affiliated with the Labour Party, but I see many other unions, general secretaries and leaders thinking what is the point of this connection,” he said.

“If we just get this bland democratic party sitting in the centre of politics taking their instructions off the Daily Mail to some extent, and not actually getting behind workers’ struggles, you have to ask yourself, why do they call themselves the Labour Party?

“If he wants to go back to the Red Wall, or now the Blue Wall, he needs to make a connection with working people. This is a crisis and it’s time for [Sir] Keir Starmer to stand up for our people.”

The Labour Party was approached for comment.