Prime Minister Gordon Brown attacked the RMT trade union yesterday, saying whatever its reason, the Tube strike is ‘unjustifiable’.
Answering questions at his second monthy prime minister’s press conference, Brown said: ‘This is a wholly unjustifiable strike.
‘It is causing an enormous amount of trouble to the people of London and disruption to the business of this city.
‘They should get back to work as quickly as possible.’
Brown also said that public sector ‘pay discipline’ had to be maintained, claiming it is necessary to keep inflation down.
Blaming workers for inflation, he made it clear he stood with the bosses against workers. He said that ‘the national interest has to come before sectional interests’.
Asked about the divisions in the Tory party, he said Thatcher ‘saw the need for change’ and praised her as a ‘conviction politician’ like himself, unlike present Tory leader Cameron.
Brown introduced his press conference with an attack on youth saying that police will intensify stop and search and that parents will be penalised if children excluded from school are found on their own in public places.
He also said that ‘failing schools’ would be taken over.
Asked what Labour was doing to ‘protect vulnerable people from irresponsible lenders’, he said ‘the mortgage market has a big regulation in favour of protecting people’.
He added: ‘But we don’t want to over-regulate’.
Brown was asked several questions about British troops’ retreat from Basra Palace which he tried to spin as a planned ‘reorganisation’ and in line with the US.
• Second news story
ROYAL MAIL TALKS EXTENDED
Communication Workers Union leaders yesterday issued a statement on the dispute with Royal Mail.
Having promised a result by yesterday after weeks of secret talks, they said: ‘Following the four weeks of talks, both Royal Mail and CWU have agreed to extend negotiations for a further five days until Sunday 9th September 2007, in order to resolve all issues in dispute.’
South east London CWU rep. Billy Colvill commented: ‘Our leaders must tell us what is going on. We were against secret talks.
‘If there’s no result, they should break off the talks and call strike action.
‘In any case, management have been breaking agreements and pushing changes through.
‘It’s time to call off secret talks and take action in defence of our jobs, pay and conditions, and pensions.’
East London E3 Delivery Office CWU rep Vince Metcalf said: ‘The membership are disappointed that the CWU is not forcing the issue enough.
‘The talks have been so secretive, we don’t know what is going on. If there’s no resolution by Sunday we will have to continue our action.
‘We’ve just balloted for strike action in East London and got a resounding “yes’’ vote over 30-hour contracts, executive action on overtime and a failure to abide by procedures and agreements.
‘From September 17, Royal Mail plans to impose 6.15am starts across the country’