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Mick Lynch loses his cool: GMB's Richard Madeley tears into RMT boss

Mick Lynch loses his cool: GMB’s Richard Madeley tears into RMT boss in furious row from picket line – before rattled union leader accuses R4 Today’s Mishal Husain of being a ‘right wing parrot’ in bizarre media round

  • RMT boss had a series of tetchy media exchanges this morning as strikes begun  
  • The union boss told Mr Madeley, ‘Richard, why don’t you just interview yourself?’
  • Later accused the BBC’s Mishal Husain of ‘parroting’ Network Rail ‘propaganda’ 

RMT boss Mick Lynch lost his cool in a series of tetchy media exchanges this morning as he was told to ‘jog on’ by Good Morning Britain’s Richard Madeley before later accusing the BBC’s Mishal Husain of ‘parroting’ right-wing ‘propaganda’. 

Mr Madeley put it to Mr Lynch that the rail strikes were targeting people at Christmas and could put hoteliers, restauranteurs and retailers out of business during a normally busy time of year.

Mr Lynch, speaking from a picket line in London, replied: ‘We’re not targeting Christmas, it isn’t Christmas yet, Richard, I don’t know when your Christmas starts but mine starts on Christmas Eve.’

The presenter branded that statement as ‘disingenuous’, adding: ‘Commercial Christmas starts in December, you know that.’

Richard Madeley put it to Mick Lynch that the rail strikes were targeting people at Christmas and could put hoteliers, restauranteurs and retailers out of business

As the pair spoke over each other, Mr Lynch said: ‘Richard, why don’t you just interview yourself?’

He later added: ‘I have no intention of spoiling people’s Christmas. The Government is contributing to that spoiling of the people’s Christmas because they’ve brought these strikes on by stopping the companies from making suitable proposals.

‘That’s the position that we’re in and we’ll have to keep this dispute going until we get a reasonable settlement and a reasonable set of proposals that our members want to accept.’

At one point during the exchange Mr Madeley told Mr Lynch to ‘jog on’.  

The RMT general secretary had another fiery exchange on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, where he accused presenter Mishal Husain of repeating Government ‘propaganda’ after objecting to her line of questioning.  

Ms Husain pointed to figures showing that 63 per cent of RMT members who voted chose to reject a pay offer yesterday compared to 91 per cent at an earlier ballot in November. 

‘It seems that backing for strikes among the membership is falling – do you accept that?’ Ms Husain said. 

Mr Lynch replied: ‘Well that’s what the government and Network Rail are telling you and you’re prepared to push that line because they’re telling you too.  

‘You’re just parroting the most right-wing stuff that you can get hold of on behalf of the establishment.’ 

The union boss also took exception to Ms Husain asking him the average amount of pay lost by RMT members through the strike period.  

He replied: ‘What I do find annoying, Mishal, is that you take these lines that are taken from the propaganda of the other side…

The union boss also took exception to Ms Husain asking him the average amount of pay lost by RMT members through the strike period 

‘You never seem to take an impartial view on the way this society is balanced at the moment and the complete lack of distribution of wealth in this society, you just seem to punt out what you get from the employers and the government.’

Mr Lynch also claimed the presenter was ‘parroting the right-wing press’. 

Ms Husain, who remained calm throughout the exchanged, said at the end of the interview: ‘They’re called questions.’ 

A month of rail disruption began today, with workers walking out in the first of a wave of 48-hour strikes, as nurses prepare to take unprecedented industrial action.

RMT members are pressing ahead with two 48-hour strikes at Network Rail – and 14 train companies – from today and Friday.

Trains are only running from 7.30am to 6.30pm on this week’s strike days, although many parts of the country will have no services, including most of Scotland and Wales.

But with further walkouts planned, Network Rail has warned there will be significantly reduced services, with trains more crowded and likely to start later and finish earlier until January 8.

Asked if there is a glimmer of hope in the negotiations, Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines told BBC Breakfast: ‘It’s hard to see that today. I’ve learned, you know, through a long career, that sometimes the light is just around the corner.

‘But where I stand today, I’d have to say that with the level of disruption the RMT are imposing, the way forward isn’t obvious.’

But Transport Secretary Mark Harper said ‘almost 40%’ of RMT members at Network Rail voted in favour of an offer to resolve the dispute despite ‘a very clear instruction from their union leadership’.

He told GB News: ‘I think the tide is turning on people seeing that the offers we have made are reasonable, taking into account both the travelling public but also the interest of taxpayers.’

December’s ‘Calendar of Chaos’ with strikes happening across several sectors 

The RMT said 63.6% voted to reject Network Rail’s offer on an 83% turnout.

Meanwhile, talks to avert the nursing strike have failed after the union leader behind the action accused Health Secretary Steve Barclay of ‘belligerence’ and refusing to discuss pay.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) general secretary Pat Cullen said nurses are ‘not getting an extra penny’ despite their talks on Monday.

Nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland now seem set to begin their first day of strike action on Thursday, with a second date set for Tuesday.

Cabinet minister Oliver Dowden warned that the Government ‘cannot eliminate’ the risks of a wave of strike action throughout the month after chairing an emergency Cobra meeting on Monday.

He said ministers will be ‘straining every sinew’ to minimise the disruption, with paramedics, postal workers and Border Force officials among those scheduled to walk out.

Health minister Will Quince admitted that taxis could be used to transport patients during ambulance strikes on December 21 and 28.

He told MPs it is ‘likely’ that category one and two calls ‘where there is an immediate threat to life will be responded to’.

But he added: ‘We are looking at ways in which we can provide additional support for category three and category four, including things such as block-booking taxis and support through community healthcare, local authority fall services and community support.’

Heavy traffic on the A40 at Perivale, west London, as a month of walkouts begins with railway staff staging their first wave of 48-hour strikes

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the vote by the union’s members at Network Rail was a ‘huge rejection’ of the public body’s ‘substandard offer’.

‘The Government is refusing to lift a finger to prevent these strikes and it is clear they want to make effective strike action illegal in Britain,’ the union boss added.

‘We will resist that, and our members, along with the entire trade union movement, will continue their campaign for a square deal for workers, decent pay increases and good working conditions.’

A strike by members of Unite at Network Rail will not go ahead after they voted to accept the offer.

Network Rail had offered a 5% pay rise for this year – backdated to January – with another 4% at the start of 2023 and a guarantee of no compulsory job losses until January 2025.

The RMT’s executive recommended rejecting the offer, saying it was linked to ‘significant’ changes to working practices.

RMT workers at Network Rail will also strike from 6pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on December 27.

Talks between Mr Barclay and Ms Cullen failed to find a breakthrough, with the Health Secretary refusing to negotiate on pay.

‘The Government was true to its word – they would not talk to me about pay,’ the RCN boss said in a statement.

‘I needed to come out of this meeting with something serious to show nurses why they should not strike this week. Regrettably, they are not getting an extra penny.’

The union is demanding a pay rise of 5% above the RPI rate of inflation, which was 14.2% in October, but Ms Cullen has hinted that she could compromise if the Government negotiates on pay.

Mr Barclay has been sticking with the independent pay review body’s recommendation of a £1,400 rise. 

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