Boris blasts unions for 'harming people they claim to protect' ahead of rail strike chaos

The Prime Minister is set to make the comments as Brits brace for thousands of union members to walk out this week, leaving just one in five trains running on days affected by strikes. Up to 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union stretching across 13 train operators are said to be taking action on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday over pay, jobs and conditions. However, Network Rail has claimed up to six days of disruption could follow due to knock-on disruption on days between strikes.

According to Sky News, Mr Johnson will tell Cabinet colleagues the unions are “harming the very people they claim to be helping” and will call for a “sensible compromise” on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister is even set to claim unions are “driving away commuters who ultimately support the jobs of rail workers” while hitting British businesses.

He will add: “Too high demands on pay will also make it incredibly difficult to bring to an end the current challenges facing families around the world with rising costs of living.

“Now is the time to come to a sensible compromise for the good of the British people and the rail workforce.”

However, Mr Johnson and his Chancellor Rishi Sunak are also expected to argue pay restraint is needed to manage inflationary pressures.

Political leaders have taken aim at one another over the strikes as commuters prepare to face the challenge over the coming days.

Strike action has even led to across despatch box spats between Labour and the Conservatives.

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Sir Keir Starmer, who was stung by accusations of being “boring”, included an attack against Boris Johnson while dropping jokes about Love Island and Star Wars at Prime Minister’s Questions.

The Labour leader said: “I don’t want the strikes to go ahead but he does.

“He wants the country to grind to a halt so he can feed off the division.”

Mr Johnson responded by lambasting the Leader of the Opposition.

He accused Mr Starmer of being “on the side” of RMT strikers.

Mr Johnson added: “We are on the side of the travelling public.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has since called on the Labour leader to “put people above your party coffers” by rejecting donations from any unions involved in the strikes.

Mr Shapps’ letter comes after it was revealed RMT gave Labour and CLP’s £250,000 over the last decade and following a report which claimed minutes from a meeting of Labour’s ruling body showed Sir Keir opposed Government moves to restrict industrial action by the Aslef train drivers’ union.

RMT and Unite union members will also take strike action on the London Underground on Tuesday amid a separate row.

Last ditch efforts to avoid the rail strike were held on Monday but ultimately failed.

The RMT is demanding a seven percent pay rise.

The request is below inflation but higher than the increase offered to other employers.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “It is clear that the Tory government, after slashing £4billion of funding from National Rail and Transport for London, has now actively prevented a settlement to this dispute.

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“The rail companies have now proposed pay rates that are massively under the relevant rates of inflation, coming on top of the pay freezes of the past few years.

“At the behest of the government, companies are also seeking to implement thousands of job cuts and have failed to give any guarantee against compulsory redundancies.”

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