The pair contested the strike action this week which has already caused chaos on public transport and is likely to continue into the summer. Both panellists disagreed about the modernisation of the rail networks and their interaction demonstrated how the union and the Government are at loggerheads and will continue to be.
As a result of the protests this week over pay led by the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT), many of the rail networks and TFL train services will continue to be severely delayed or entirely closed down, also impacting other transport links.
Speaking on Peston the MP for Newark said: “There are two issues here, one is the modernisation programme and its merits or otherwise, I’m not an expert on that but what I’ve heard it feels like the unions are opposing a degree of that modernisation and the railways desperately need it.”
The statement “I’m not an expert” was a mistake by the MP, who has since been criticised for even commenting on the issue as a non-expert.
He continued: “I do know a few things. One for example, you’ve lost 20 percent of the passengers on the railways since Covid, that’s not the fault of you and the railways, but we need to encourage those people back.
“The worst way in which you can do that is by alienating your customers by going on strike and making their lives much more difficult.”
Mick Lynch had been interrupting the MP throughout his piece saying that he himself did not lose the 20 percent of customers, the pandemic did and added that “we operated those trains all the way through that period”.
Mr Lynch fought back: “The worst way you could do it is insist that the fares go up by RPI (retail price index) ripping off the commuters, but you won’t give the workers RPI.
“The fares go up by RPI every year, that’s the Government regulations and last year profits were made by the train operators £500 million out of that subsidy you gave went to those companies.
“First Group and Go Ahead who we are negotiating with are both subject to take overs from private equity companies, they are going to be worth billions because they know you’re going to keep syphoning money from the public purse into private sector operators just as you’re doing in health, education and care.”
The MP rebuffed the comment and said: “What’s actually happening in the last two years is in effect a large swathe of the rails have been nationalised.
“So, the idea that this is syphoning profits to the private sector is ridiculous.”
People took to social media to discuss the interaction with one jokingly tweeting that it “wasn’t a clash, it was a massacre” and that Mr Jenrick should have stopped speaking after admitting he is not an expert.
Twitter user Gareth Waring tweeted: “Love how every conservative politician that goes up against Mick Lynch gets trounced for the simple fact he talks straight and knows his brief better than them, bravo.”
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RMT announced on Wednesday that strike action would still be going ahead as planned on Thursday, following the breakdown of talks with no resolution.
RMT tweeted: “Until the Government unshackles Network Rail and the train operating companies, it is not going to be possible for a negotiated settlement to be agreed.”
Following Mr Lynch insisting that the strike action will continue into the summer if no agreement, Boris Johnson has vowed to “stay the course” and is prepared to wait out the stalemate.