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Starmer urged to visit picket line as Labour members back striking workers

Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer leads tributes to Queen Elizabeth II during the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool. Picture date: Sunday September 25, 2022 (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer leads tributes to Queen Elizabeth II during the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool. Picture date: Sunday September 25, 2022 (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Calls to support striking workers received a standing ovation from Labour members, as a bacon butty was offered to tempt Sir Keir Starmer to visit a picket line.

Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, moved a motion aimed at committing the next Labour government to bringing Royal Mail back into public ownership and reunite it with the Post Office.

Labour leader Sir Keir has warned off frontbenchers from joining picket lines, with Sam Tarry sacked as shadow transport minister in July for giving unauthorised media interviews from an RMT demonstration.

Keir, if you believe in the sovereignty of this country, don't worry too much about whether people sing the national anthem, get out there, show your support that you're going to save the Royal Mail

Dave Ward, CWU

Mr Ward, after highlighting struggles faced by CWU members in Royal Mail, asked: “Our members want to know does this Labour conference stand with your posties?

“And if you do, are you going to be on the picket lines when we take our next strike action on Friday and Saturday of the coming week?

“And if you are going to do that and if you’re able physically to do so, well get up and stand up now and show that support.”

Many people within the conference hall in Liverpool got to their feet and applauded in response.

Communication Workers Union general secretary Dave Ward called on Sir Keir Starmer to visit a picket line (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
Communication Workers Union general secretary Dave Ward called on Sir Keir Starmer to visit a picket line (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Ward joked: “Conference, I think that’s now official party policy.

“I think Keir will come and join us on Saturday morning in his own constituency outside Mount Pleasant.

“We’ll get a bacon butty ready for him. Keir, let us know if it’s brown or red sauce you want?”

He added: “Keir, if you believe in the sovereignty of this country, don’t worry too much about whether people sing the national anthem, get out there, show your support that you’re going to save the Royal Mail.”

Joining calls for senior party figures to join picket lines, Young Labour delegate Hasan Patel told the conference hall: “Labour MPs need to get off the sidelines and onto picket lines.

“The Labour leadership needs to lift the disgraceful picket line ban and it’s the job of every Labour MP across the country to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with striking workers.”

He said Sir Keir was elected Labour leader on a pledge to stand should-to-shoulder with trade unions, adding: “I tell him: use your mandate and listen to your members.”

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan welcomed comments from Transport Secretary Louise Haigh (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan welcomed comments from Transport Secretary Louise Haigh (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan welcomed the commitment from Transport Secretary Louise Haigh for “saying the right things” about bringing railways back into public ownership.

He said: “Cutting public transport jobs is not the way to cut carbon emissions.

“When I ask myself what I want us to achieve over these few days, I believe this: a Labour Party ready to make bold decisions, ready to invest in our industries, communities and the future of our country.”

Mr Whelan said there has “never been a privatisation that has worked for the workers”, adding: “Let’s not just renationalise our rail, let’s renationalise our utilities, our Royal Mail.”

Nicola Jukes, a ticket clerk and TSSA member, thanked Labour MP Jon Trickett (Hemsworth) for visiting their picket line in Wakefield.

She added: “I’d like to take this opportunity to invite all Labour MPs to come to our picket lines this week.”

Addressing the Government’s tax cuts, Christina McAnea, general secretary of the Unison union, told the hall: “They’re like thieving gangstas. They have got their crew and they are the only people they are looking after.”