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Five Labour mayors back workers’ right to strike to ‘defend their livelihoods’

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Five Labour metro mayors have backed workers’ right to strike as they warned the cost-of-living crisis is “forcing an increasing number of people into industrial disputes”.

In a statement, the mayors said striking is at times the only remaining means for people to “defend their livelihoods”, with those compelled to take a stand recently including rail workers, barristers and airport staff.

They expressed their support for “the right to take action to protect jobs, safety, pensions, pay and conditions”, arguing that paying a “fair wage” is not “too much ask”.

The statement is signed by Labour mayors Steve Rotheram, of the Liverpool City Region, and Andy Burnham, of Greater Manchester, as well as Labour and Co-operative mayors Nik Johnson, of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Oliver Coppard, of South Yorkshire, and Jamie Driscoll, of North of Tyne.

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram
Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram (Danny Lawson/PA)

“As metro mayors we work every day with businesses to boost our regional economies,” they said.

“Our Good Work Charters and Good Work Pledges are supported by hundreds of enlightened employers covering tens of thousands of workers. Many employers are exemplary and look after their workforce.

“Sadly, this doesn’t always happen. We’ve seen a worrying increase in fire and rehire.

“No one wants to see strikes happening. But at times, the only means working people have left to defend their livelihoods is industrial action. We support the right to take action to protect jobs, safety, pensions, pay and conditions.”

The mayors warned there could be “many more” workers, including teachers, doctors and other NHS staff, who are compelled to strike.

“The cost-of-living crisis is forcing an increasing number of people into industrial disputes,” they said.

“Rail workers, criminal barristers, airport check-in staff. And there could be many more, including teachers, doctors, other NHS staff, postal and telecoms workers. This affects everyone.

“Paying a fair wage to the people who keep our country running isn’t too much ask. We urge employers to meet with trade unions and negotiate an end to these disputes.”

It comes as barrister strikes continue at criminal courts around the country for a second week.

Criminal barristers strike action
Criminal defence barristers gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Industrial action on the railways crippled Britain’s transport network last month, with the prospect of further disruption on the horizon.

Holidaymakers also face chaos at airports this summer as BA staff demand the 10% of pay they had “stolen” from them last year as they faced fire and rehire tactics.

Mr Burnham previously gave his backing to workers going on strike as he sought to downplay his Labour leadership ambitions.