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News Report Page 27 of 32
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Getting our trains back on track must be the priority, but why does this Government not seem to understand that?

SEFTON Central MP and Shadow Minster for Business and Industry Bill Esterson MP on Monday asked the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps MP why he hasn't taken appropriate action to avoid the rail strikes that will affect thousands of workers, businesses and rail passengers up and down the country.

Mr Esterson asked:- "My constituents won't be able to use Merseyrail tomorrow not because there is a strike on, there isn't because Labour run Liverpool City Region, have met the rail unions and avoided strikes at Merseyrail. But there still won't be any trains in Merseyside because this Conservative Transport Secretary is responsible for Network Rail, where there is a strike, where he has refused to meet the unions for months. Labour has found a way to resolve potential disputes in Wales and in Merseyside. So, what is it about this Transport Secretary that prevents him from finding solutions and stopping these strikes?"

In response to Mr Esterson's question Mr Shapps said:- "He might want to reflect the same question to the Mayor of London I suppose but for the same reasons. Look I'm delighted that Merseyrail have been able to do their thing, I do hope that he will now join with me, will he join with me in condemning the strikes now? Because I think actually would have real weight from the Labour and unions party, but they won't do it, they won't condemn these strikes."

Mr Esterson went on to say:- "At a time when we have an unprecedented cost of living crisis, the last thing that working families and business need right now is this strike which is causing a great deal of inconvenience to everyone, but the buck ultimately stops with Mr Shapps who has shrugged off all responsibility and is laying blame with the unions. He has refused to even meet the unions. This strike benefits no1 other than the Conservative Government who are fanning the flames of division to suit their own agenda and is in no way in the interests of the British people who are greatly affected by this. Mr Shapps and Boris Johnson could have avoided these strikes if they had wanted to do so. The fact that the strikes have gone ahead is a damning indictment of this Conservative Government who don't care about key rail workers, including:- low paid cleaners and station staff, who looked after us without a pay rise throughout the covid Pandemic. It also shows that the British Conservative Government doesn't care about the travelling public either."

Mick Lynch, General Secretary of RMT said:- "staff were faced with thousands of job cuts, reduced pensions, worse terms and conditions, and a cut in real terms pay as inflation soars."

Damien Moore MP slams rail strikes as:- "a kick in the teeth to hardworking people."

DAMIEN Moore, Member of Parliament for Southport, has slammed rail union bosses for pushing for industrial action. The strikes, supported by Labour MPs and Councillors, including:- those in Southport and Sefton, will grind the country to a standstill this week, harming the economy and losing hardworking people and businesses millions of pounds. Many students will be unable to get to their GCSE and A-Level exams despite years of preparation, and others will be prevented from accessing vital NHS treatment.

The Conservative Government committed £16 billion of emergency taxpayer support, the equivalent to £600 per household, to support the railways over Covid and ensure that not1 single rail worker lost their job as a result of Covid.

Union bosses, who are leading up to 50,000 rail workers to walk out on the 1st of 3 days of strikes this week, hope that their actions will result in yet greater pay. The median wage for rail workers is £44,000 and the median salary for train drivers is £59,000, with a fifth of drivers earning more than £70,000.

The strikes are backed by Labour Councillors in Southport and Labour MPs in Parliament, who failed to vote for a motion expressing concern at the impact the strikes would have. Mr. Moore's votes in Parliament last week signalled his opposition to the strikes, along with the majority of his Parliamentary colleagues.

Damien Moore, MP for Southport, said:- "Like many across our town, I am deeply concerned by the rail action beginning tomorrow, which will affect everybody from the 16 year old sitting their GCSE's to the pensioner needing to visit the hospital. Over the Pandemic, the average household paid some £600 to support rail workers, who take home a median wage of £44,000. As we began getting back on our feet after Covid, and battling rising inflation and the growing cost of living, these strikes are a kick in the teeth to hardworking people and businesses across the country. Union bosses have driven these workers to a national strike under false pretences, threatening rather than protecting jobs, as they stand in the way of much-needed reform across our rail networks. While Labour have chosen to side with their union paymasters over the British people, I will always as Southport's Conservative MP stand up for rail users and be firmly on the side of the hardworking, traveling public."

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