Britain’s main opposition, the center-left Labour Party, on Wednesday sacked a member of its frontbench who appeared on the picket line with striking rail workers, as rail unions announced the second wave of strikes.
Labour MP Sam Tarry was the shadow transport secretary.
On Wednesday morning, he attended a protest at a London train station to show his support. This is despite Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer ordering his frontbench to stay away from the picket lines.
The Aslef union announced on Wednesday that train drivers of nine companies will strike on Aug. 13.
A separate rail driver strike of seven companies is already scheduled for this Saturday.
Aslef said the strikes were happening because the rail companies did not make a pay offer that would match Britain’s escalating cost of living.
The union added that its workers had not received a pay rise since 2019, and on top of this, the inflation was due to hit 11% later this year.
General Secretary Mick Whelan said: “We want an increase in line with the cost of living – we want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021. It’s not unreasonable to ask your employer to make sure you’re not worse off for three years in a row.”
“Wage raises aren’t fuelling inflation,” Whelan noted, adding: “Excess profiteering is. But the government isn’t asking companies to cut profits or dividend payments to help manage inflation. Wages are chasing prices, not putting them up.”
The recent strikes that involved 40,000 rail workers forced half the network to close.
The RMT union has also announced strikes on Aug. 18 and 20, while on Aug. 19, workers on London’s underground rail network will go on strike.
Tarry told local media before his sacking: “I’m not defying anybody. I’m here supporting 40,000 low-paid transport workers who decided to go on strike.”
“This is something that’s important that people realize,” he added.
“These workers are not well paid, they are safety-critical workers.”
A spokesperson for the Labour Party said after his sacking: “The Labour Party will always stand up for working people fighting for better pay, terms, and conditions at work.
“This isn’t about appearing on a picket line. Members of the frontbench sign up for collective responsibility. That includes media appearances being approved and speaking to agreed frontbench positions.
“As a government in waiting, any breach of collective responsibility is taken extremely seriously and for these reasons, Sam Tarry has been removed from the frontbench.