Union leader Mick Lynch has compared the government to a lingering “bad smell” and insisted they “don’t know what they’re doing” as the latest rail strike caused disruption around the country.
Speaking on a picket line outside Euston station, Mick Lynch – who is general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union – urged new Prime Minister Liz Truss to make way for a “competent” successor.
He said: “They don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know how to be economists, they don’t know how to run the railway.
“The quicker they get out the way and let people who are competent in the better it will be for all of us.
“We’re not part of any anti-growth coalition. We’re not against the economy, we’re not against the country, we want the country to succeed.
“And we want our people to succeed within that country – it’s in our interests. But I don’t think we’re going to get that off this current regime.”
When asked how long the current government would remain in power, Mr Lynch responded with a chuckle, saying: “We’ll see. Things linger, don’t they? Like bad smells.”
Rail passengers face massive disruption to travel on Saturday, with only around one in five trains running.
More than 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 15 train operating companies have walked out in a row over jobs, pay and conditions.
Around half of the network is closed all day and trains will operate only between 7.30am and 6.30pm. Rail passengers are being urged to only travel if “absolutely necessary”.
Trains will also be affected early on Sunday morning, as workers return to duties.
Passengers are advised to check National Rail Enquiries or their train operator’s website for updates, with those who have tickets for cancelled or rescheduled journeys entitled to a refund.
Season ticket holders are also entitled to compensation through the delay repay scheme.
Ahead of the industrial action, Mr Lynch wrote to Transport Secretary Anne Marie Trevelyan, urging her to “unshackle” the railway companies and allow them to reach a settlement with the rail unions.
He said there was “a deal to be done” between the rail unions and train companies in relation to the ongoing industrial disputes.
In a statement, the Department for Transport urged union bosses to work with their employers “not against them”.
The latest strike action comes after a week of travel misery, with strikes also taking place last Saturday and on Wednesday.
An earlier analysis by the rail regulator found that Network Rail’s maintenance staff earn “18% above the market median”.
Commenting on the study, Mr Lynch highlighted the importance of trade unions in achieving “safe working environments”, and suggested the findings pointed to a wider problem within the market.
There are currently no further rail strikes planned.