Jeremy Corbyn slammed for claiming Tories should bow to trade unions because Thatcher did

Jeremy Corbyn refers to Thatcher in warning to Sunak and Truss

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Speaking to GB News, the former Labour Party leader pledged his “support” for the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) strikes, with whom he joined the picket line in London at Euston Station. He claimed the union was “speaking for an awful lot of people” both outside and inside the transport sector, before adding that the Labour Party should be focussing on helping people in need. Jeremy Corbyn then suggested either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss should steer clear of rehashing Thatcherite policies on the trade unions, as she “ended up losing”. 

Mr Corbyn said: “I’m here today to support the rail workers. They are faced with job losses, insufficient pay, and insecurity for the future. Now, that cannot be right. 

“In reality, the RMT today is speaking for an awful lot of other people who are worried about their own future, about their jobs, and about low levels of pay in this country at a time of high inflation.” 

Asked about what he thought the Labour Party should be focussing on at the moment, Mr Corbyn said: “I think the Labour Party should always be resonating with people as to where they are, and with those people who are having trouble paying their bill when they get to the till of a supermarket. 

“They are the people we should be speaking to and they are the people we should be talking for.”

When asked whether he backed Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss for the leadership of the Conservative Party, Mr Corbyn declined to answer but issued a warning to whoever eventually won the vote. 

He said: “That’s up to them to decide. Whatever they want to do. 

“I would just advise them to read the history of Ted Heath and Margaret Thatcher. Both of them tried to bring in the most draconian anti-trade union laws and ended up losing.” 

He later added: “[The Conservative Government’s] behaviour is utterly extraordinary, and then the two leadership contenders, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, are now proposing to make public sector strikes illegal which would of course be contrary to the provisions of the International Labour Organisation convention.” 

But people were quick to take to social media to point out that Mr Corbyn might need to revisit the history books. 

One user on Twitter wrote: “Interesting interpretation of Mrs Thatcher history.” 

 Another wrote: “They didn’t lose, they won the fight with the unions. His recollection has varied!”

And one user added sarcastically: “Thatcher won 3 terms. I imagine if that is the price of defeat, Truss or Sunak will take the hit…” 

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The transport secretary Grant Shapps added his own criticism of the strikes, describing them as an example of “union collusion”, adding he would seek to ban “strikes by different unions in the same workplace within a set period”.

He said he would also look at implementing a 60-day cooling-off period after each strike, as well as ensuring critical industries like rail maintain minimum service levels.

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “Despite our best efforts to find a breakthrough, I’m afraid there will be more disruption for passengers this week as the RMT seems hell-bent on continuing their political campaigning, rather than compromising and agreeing a deal for their members.”

Members of the RMT and Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) will also launch coordinated strikes on August 18 and 20, while the RMT announced a strike on London Underground on August 19.

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