Train passengers are being hit by major disruption due to the largest strike by rail workers for a generation.
Usually busy stations such as London Euston were nearly deserted except for picket lines by union members early today, with the start of services delayed until 7.30am.
Only a fifth of trains are running, half of lines are closed, and the network will be shut down at 6.30pm.
The general secretary of the RMT union has accused Transport Secretary Grant Shapps of “spouting nonsense” with plans to allow agency staff to step in for striking workers.
But could it all have been avoided if the Grant Shapps had bothered to speak to the union bosses? Well, not according to Grant.
It comes as Mick Lynch criticised the proposed change in the law, which would allow flexible workers, including agency staff, to cover for those on strike.
Mr Shapps said the legislation change could be introduced within months.
Mr Lynch told the PA news agency: “Well, I don’t know how bringing in untrained, non-safety critical, inexperienced workers into a dangerous environment like the railway – with high speed trains, there are high voltage distribution systems, there are rules and regulations that have the power of statute – how that will help anyone, whether they are a passenger or a worker or manager or whatever?
“I don’t see how the use, the deployment of students or people who have got no work experience that are working for an agency will help anyone to resolve this situation, so as usual he’s just spouting nonsense given to him from some policy unit which doesn’t help to resolve the situations which are in front of us.”
Shapps appeared on BBC News this morning and was asked: “When did you personally, Transport Secretary, speak to the RMT that called this strike?”
He replied that he did not meet with them, because ‘it’s a red herring.’
How do you know if you never went Grant?
The RMT responded with this:
Also during the interview, Shapps was held to account for not getting involved. John Kay read out a contract which the Tories made, handing themselves power over industrial action on the railways and how everything they do must go through Grant Shapps.
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Related: Watch: RMT boss repeatedly calls Tory minister a liar during Newsnight clash