Labor has sacked frontbencher Sam Terry for flouting a picket line ban.


Abor has sacked shadow frontbencher Sam Terry after he defied Sir Keir Starmer’s ban on joining the pit lines in support of striking rail workers.

The party said shadow transport minister Mr Terry had been “removed from the front bench”, saying it took “any breach of collective responsibility” seriously.

Mr Terry stood with striking workers at London’s Euston station on Wednesday morning, despite Sir Keir’s orders to stay away from demonstrations.

A Labor spokesman said: “The Labor Party will always stand up for working people who are fighting for better pay, terms and conditions in the workplace.

“It’s not about showing up on the picket line.

“Front bench members sign up for collective responsibility.

“This includes being approved for media appearances and discussing agreed positions from the front bench.

“As a government-in-waiting, any breach of collective responsibility is taken extremely seriously and for these reasons Sam Terry has been removed from the front bench.”

In a statement, Mr Terry said: “It has been an honor to serve on Labour’s front bench for the past two years and an opportunity to speak up for struggling workers who are very upset by the way they have been treated. Deserve better from this corrupt and out of hand government.

“I am committed to supporting the striking rail workers and campaigning for a Labor victory at the next general election, which I will continue to fight for from the backbenches.”

It comes as rail commuters face fresh travel chaos on Wednesday, after thousands of workers went on strike, disrupting services across the country.

Disputes over jobs, pay, pensions and conditions are worsening in bitter rows, with more strikes due in the coming days, and a wave of industrial action planned on the railways and London Underground next month.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 14 train operators went on strike, with picket lines outside railway stations.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staff Association (TSSA), one of whose companies also took action on Wednesday, said Mr Terry was “one of us”, adding that the union was “on the worker’s actions”. Shame on you. Party leadership.”

“Today Sam did the right thing and stood shoulder to shoulder with striking rail workers for justice and safety at work,” he said.

Whatever excuses the Labor Party makes about why Sam was sacked, the fact remains that Sam has stood in solidarity with his constituents and we applaud him for that.

The Labor Party needs to wake up and smell the coffee. If they think (they) can win the next general election by pushing seven million trade union members, they are deluded.

We expect attacks from the Tories, we don’t expect attacks from our party.

“As a union affiliated with Labour, our union is ashamed of the actions of the Labor Party leadership and the anti-labour anti-union message it is sending.

“This is a bad day for our movement.

“And if Keir Starmer does not understand the fundamental concept of solidarity on which our movement is founded, he is unfit to lead our party.”

Asked about Labour’s decision to sack Mr Terry, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said it was a “sad day”.

Speaking to Times Radio, he accused Sir Kerr of “moving the Labor party to the right, and denying its principles and denying the people it stands for, including Including Sam Terry”.

Earlier, Mr Terry told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “If we don’t take a stand today, people could lose their lives.

“Some of the lowest-paid workers in the rail industry are on strike today, safety-critical workers, workers who make sure our railroads get people to work and do it safely.”

Mr Terry told Sky News he was “not denying anyone”, but was supporting “40,000 low-paid transport workers”.

He later tweeted a picture saying he was “with members not the establishment”.

It came after Sir Kerr said he would again tell his frontbench MPs not to involve striking workers in fresh action.

The Labor leader said: “The Labor Party in opposition needs to be the Labor Party in power.

“And the government doesn’t go on sit-ins, the government tries to resolve conflicts.”

The Conservatives have tried to use the row to claim Labor is on the side of striking workers, which has caused chaos for millions of commuters.

Before the announcement, Transport Secretary Grant Shepps predicted Sir Kerr would sack Mr Terry.

The Conservative MP told Sky News: “This is clearly in direct contravention of Sir Keir Starmer, who told his frontbenchers they shouldn’t be (on picket lines).

“There’s no doubt he’ll want to fire him.”

Backbench Labor MPs, including Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne, also joined the picket lines.

He told the PA news agency: “What I see across the city is that people are absolutely struggling in the public and private sector.

“Wages are not keeping up with inflation and that’s really, really worrying.

“It’s very important for me to be here.

“I have been a trade unionist all my life and I will always support workers.”

Brent Central MP Don Butler, Birmingham Hall Green MP Tahir Ali, Gateshead MP Ian Mearns and South Shields MP Emma Levelbuck were among those sharing pictures of themselves from the picket lines on social media.

Jeremy Corbyn, former party leader and now independent MP, told PA outside Euston station: “There are three Labor MPs on this picket line, and no doubt there are across the country.

“I think MPs represent their constituents and listen every day to what their constituents want, and they are doing the right thing by standing with workers in the dispute.”