Robert Largan Column: Rail strike action is misguided in both its timing and tactics

My dad was a trade union rep, and I am proud of the work he did standing up for the people he worked with.

By Robert Largan
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 9:30 am

I am not a knee-jerk trade union basher.

I do not support the RMT’s latest strike action, however, which is misguided in both timing and tactics.

The timing of the strikes comes in the middle of students’ exams. After a terrible two years for young people, this is the last thing they need.

Sign up to our daily Buxton Advertiser Today newsletter

Robert Largan, High Peak MP.

Millions of commuters have been unable to get to work. Many self-employed people have faced several days of lost earnings, as they aren’t able to work due to the train chaos.

The RMT’s strikes are also self-defeating. We are at a critical moment for our public transport and railways.

Over the course of the pandemic, the Government provided £16 billion of emergency funding to keep the railways running and protect jobs – equivalent to £160,000 for every rail worker.

Falling passenger numbers post-pandemic have continued to push government subsidies to record levels.

Railway workers are striking over over cuts to jobs, conditions, pay and pensions.

Ticket prices are also feeling the squeeze. This is simply not sustainable and if action is not taken now, the burden on the taxpayer will spiral out of control.

Strike action against modernisation makes matching this challenge even more difficult. It makes rail travel less dependable for passengers and risks pushing even more back into cars.

That’s why I spoke in Parliament last week, urging the RMT to call off the strikes.

I’m really disappointed that High Peak Labour councillors have been encouraging the strikes to go ahead.

Those Labour figures demanding the Government order rail operators to give in to the Union demands need to explain how they would fund this.

Would they increase the rail subsidy, requiring tax increases for everyone? Or would they order the rail operators to put up ticket prices even more?

It is important that we are honest about the difficult choices we now face. There is no easy path to reducing inflation.

The following weeks and months will be tough for all of us, and the Government cannot protect everyone from the costs of global inflationary forces. We need to face these difficult decisions with honesty and clear eyes.

Whatever happens, I will continue to stand up for the most vulnerable in High Peak and beyond.

For more stories from our website click here