‘Think you’ve come to the wrong studio!’ Andrew Neil shuts down union boss in strike row

Rail union chief clashes with Andrew Neil

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Andrew Neil hit out at a rail union chief during a tense strike on air-row over Network Rail workers’ demands for high pay and better conditions. The industrial row threatens to bring travel chaos unless the unions and rail executives can sit down and agree on a deal. Mr Neil hosted the RMT general secretary Mick Lynch on his political show to debate whether his members should have a pay rise. 

Mr Lynch argues that his RMT members should have a pay rise.

“[Salaries] have been frozen for two years,” he told the Channel 4 host.

Mr Neil replied: “You keep saying that, but these were a difficult two years for the country and at least all your members kept their jobs.”

The RMT boss then pointed out that MPs got a pay rise during those last two years.

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In response, Mr Neil told him: “You want me to defend the MPs?

“I think you’ve come to the wrong studio!”

Mr Lynch has suggested a possible rail strike over jobs and pay could go on “for a very, very long time”.

Members of the RMT union at Network Rail and 13 train operators have overwhelmingly backed industrial action in a ballot.

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Mr Lynch told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “They could go on for a very, very long time. There is no sign at the moment that anybody is backing down on their side of the table.”

He could not say the level of disruption union action may cause, but added: “We will decide that if it happens. We want to make the strike action as effective as possible from our point of view.

“Our members are prepared to take effective strike action in pursuit of the settlement of this dispute.

“I have got no idea how long that will take and I can’t determine from here what the outcomes and side effects of that will be.”

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The union will have to give two weeks’ notice of strikes, which could start in mid-June.

On whether a strike is inevitable, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “I can’t see a way out from the strikes at the moment unless there is a breakthrough and the Government instructs these companies – which they are doing to change their line rather than harden their line – it is very, very likely there will be strike action and it will be very soon.”

Fears have been raised that staff walkouts could lead to much of the rail network being closed, affecting petrol and diesel supplies and the delivery of goods to shops.

Union leaders will decide next week when to call strikes after workers overwhelmingly backed industrial action over jobs, pay, and conditions.

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