Lisa Nandy visits striking workers WITH Keir Starmer’s permission despite him sacking of Sam Tarry

Lisa Nandy became the most high-profile Labour frontbencher to back striking workers on a picket line today – with Keir Starmer’s permission. 

The shadow foreign secretary was pictured meeting BT workers in her Wigan constituency this morning as members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) walked out for the second time in days.

It comes after Sam Tarry was sacked as a transport minister last week after he backed RMT rail workers who cause travel misery for millions.

But MailOnline understands that Ms Nandy sought and was given permission by Sir Keir to show her backing for workers today. 

When Mr Tarry was sacked Labour said it was because of these interviews and the policy he made up in them that he was sacked, not for attending the picket. 

Ms Nandy did no interviews this morning, and the CWU is affiliated to Labour, while the RMT is not.

Sir Keir has faced a massive backlash from Labour’s union backers, including threats to pull funding, over the sacking of Mr Tarry, who is the partner of deputy leader Angela Rayner. 

Yet Sir Keir insisted that his focus is on turning Labour from a ‘party of protest’ into one that can win power. 

The shadow foreign secretary was pictured meeting BT workers in her Wigan constituency this morning as members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) walked out for the second time in days.

It comes after Sam Tarry was sacked as a transport minister last week after he backed rail workers who cause travel misery for millions.

It comes after Sam Tarry was sacked as a transport minister last week after he backed rail workers who cause travel misery for millions.

Sir Keir has faced a massive backlash from Labour's union backers, including threats to pull funding, over the sacking of Mr Tarry, who is the partner of deputy leader Angela Rayner.

Sir Keir has faced a massive backlash from Labour’s union backers, including threats to pull funding, over the sacking of Mr Tarry, who is the partner of deputy leader Angela Rayner. 

MailOnline understands that Ms Nandy sought and was given permission by Sir Keir to show her backing for workers today.

 MailOnline understands that Ms Nandy sought and was given permission by Sir Keir to show her backing for workers today.

 The CWU is mounting picket lines outside company offices across the country and are asking people to bring food which it will deliver to local food banks.

The strike is against a £1,500 pay increase for all employees, which the CWU says means a real terms wage cut because of the soaring rate of inflation.

The industrial action will be the latest in a wave of strikes sweeping the country involving union members including railway workers, Post Office staff and refuse collectors.

More strikes are planned in the coming weeks in the bitter rail dispute.

Ilford South MP Mr Tarry was fired as a shadow transport minister on Wednesday after joining striking RMT rail workers in London and carrying out a number of media interviews. 

Sir Keir has repeatedly warned frontbenchers to stay away from pickets in order to be seen as a responsible party capable of governing.

But the sacking of Mr Tarry sparked a furious row between unions and the party hierarchy. Militant bosses have threatened to pull their funding and use their weight to alter party rules to force Labour to embrace workers planning a summer of discontent. 

In the latest escalation of hostilities, Sharon Graham, General Secretary of Unite which gives more than £1million a year in affiliation fees to the party, told the People: ‘If I was speaking to Keir right now I would say to him: Which side are you on?

‘Because the reality is, if I closed my eyes, sometimes I wouldn’t know whether it was the Labour party or the Tories who were speaking.’

She urged: ‘You need to show that you absolutely believe in defending workers. And if you don’t do that you are no longer the party for workers – that’s the reality.’

In a separate interview with the Observer she predicted the issue of funding for Labour would come up at Unite’s next conference and said it was getting ‘harder and harder to defend’.

‘There’s no point giving money to a party that is basically sticking two fingers up to workers. It’s almost like an abusive relationship,’ she said.

Separately the boss of the train drivers’ union, which remains affiliated to Labour, said Sir Keir had been wrong to remove Mr Tarry from his front bench role during last week’s rail strike.

Mick Whelan, General Secretary of Aslef, told LBC: ‘I publicly called out his decision on Sam Tarry in the week, I think it was the wrong one.’

But he insisted: ‘I do know generally he supports workers. And generally he has a policy that when Labour are in power after 12 years of the economy being destroyed by the current government that he’s talking about growth and green transition.’

Asked to describe Sir Keir’s relationship with trade unions, Mr Whelan replied: ‘Mainly cordial, occasionally fractious – we are firm critical friends.’

It comes as a Labour mayor called on his party’s leader to back strikes and let MPs to stand on picket lines.

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll told Times Radio: ‘I think the vast majority of the party is with the trade unions on this. And it will be good leadership from Keir to say, look, circumstances have changed. We’ve accepted that we need to be behind people. So I would like to think that that’s where we will end up.’ 

But one senior Labour MP insisted the row had been overblown. Carolyn Harris told GB News: ‘Keir’s relationship with the unions is fine.’ 

She said the party leader was ‘far more pragmatic’ than his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn ‘and realises that we have to work with the unions, but we’ve also got to appeal to the public in order to get elected at the next general election when it comes’.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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