Labour’s leader in Scotland has expressed “solidarity” with striking rail workers as he visited a picket line following a warning from the UK party leader that frontbenchers should refrain from doing so.
Anas Sarwar and his transport spokesman Neil Bibby visited RMT members at Edinburgh Waverley on the first of three days of walkouts that will cause major disruption across the UK.
Union members have been locked in a dispute with Network Rail over pay, jobs and conditions.
Staff will strike on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday this week, causing cancellations and delays as a result.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer reportedly ordered frontbenchers not to join picket lines at train stations as the country faces its biggest rail strike in a generation.
A leaked memo revealed frontbenchers were told to “show leadership” by the Labour leader’s office.
It added: “And to that end, please be reminded that frontbenchers including [parliamentary private secretaries] should not be on the picket lines.
“Please speak to all the members of your team to remind them of this and confirm with me that you have done so.”
But Mr Sarwar has taken a different approach north of the border.
“Solidarity with those on the picket lines,” he said on Twitter.
“This is a crisis entirely of the Government’s making.
“The workers don’t want strikes. The unions don’t want strikes. The public don’t want strikes.
“They demand better.”
Scottish Conservative transport spokesperson, Graham Simpson, said: “Passengers across the country will have been outraged to see Anas Sarwar on the picket lines, supporting these selfish strikes.
“The whole country is being held to ransom by a union that would rather cause disruption than get round the negotiating table and be part of the solution – yet instead of sticking up for ordinary travellers, Anas Sarwar has proved he’s firmly on the side of this militant union.
“Even Keir Starmer knows that these strikes are excessive and irresponsible. The Scottish Labour leader is utterly out of touch if he thinks he’ll win support with this blatant stunt.”