Sam Tarry on TSSA picket line. Photo: TSSA Union Sam Tarry on TSSA picket line. Photo: TSSA Union

Sam Tarry, shadow transport minister has been sacked by Keir Starmer for joining a picket line. This is an absolute disgrace. It is Starmer that needs to get the boot not Sam Tarry, argues Terina Hine

Standing with workers over pay cuts and job losses is exactly where all Labour MPs should be. It comes down to that old question: which side are you on? And Labour is no longer on the side of labour.

Founded by trade unions, this is the first time a Labour politician has been sacked for joining a picket line. Picking a fight with the hand that feeds you is an odd thing to do – but this is exactly what Starmer has done. Immediately the affiliated unions tweeted their shock and shame at the actions of the Labour leadership, and Tarry has been contacted by seven angry union general secretaries offering him their solidarity.

Unites Sharon Graham said Labour is becoming more and more irrelevant to ordinary working people” and accused the party of indulging in old factional wars.” There are calls for disaffiliation from the union’s membership, something that would seriously damage Labours coffers.

TSSAs General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: If Keir Starmer doesnt understand the basic concept of solidarity on which our movement has been built then he is not worthy of leading our Party.”

The RMT, with a massive majority and plenty of public support, are taking this industrial action because it is the only action open to them. Their workers, like thousands of others, face a real terms pay cut and their jobs are under threat, while the bosses and the company they work for make millions in profit. And it’s not just the RMT, strikes are spreading, hence the establishment panic. In just the next few days CWU BT members are out (Friday and Monday) and Aslef will be on Saturday.

To refuse to show solidarity to workers and to sack those who do reveals which side Starmer has chosen in this dispute. It is as strong a signal as possible that a Labour government would maintain business as usual.

This attack by Starmer comes at the same time the Tories are rolling back the right to strike. Our new Prime Minister, whether it be Sunak or Truss, will be pushing to further reduce the power of the unions and effectively make strike action illegal.

The Tories are tearing shreds out of each other in the race to become the next Prime Minister, it is frankly unbelievable that Keir Starmer chose this moment to pick a fight with his own frontbench, with the unions and with the wider labour movement. This is no way to prepare for a general election, which could come sooner than expected.

Labour MPs should be defending the fundamental workers’ right to withdraw labour. This is exactly what Sam Tarry has been doing today, instead the party is joining the assault.

Before you go

Counterfire is growing faster than ever before

We need to raise £20,000 as we are having to expand operations. We are moving to a bigger, better central office, upping our print run and distribution, buying a new printer, new computers and employing more staff.

Please give generously.

Tagged under: