John McDonnell could join Labour HQ staff on picket line in bitter pay dispute

Posted On: 
21st May 2019

John McDonnell today revealed he could join Labour HQ staff on the picket line if they strike in a bitter row over pay and conditions.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell
PA Images

The Shadow Chancellor said he felt sympathy with workers in line for a below-inflation increase and declared that he was “not averse to joining picket lines”.

Labour staff edged closer to industrial action earlier this month when they rejected a “final” pay offer from bosses of an £800 one-off payment each, plus a guarantee of five non-bank holiday days off over Christmas.

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Some union members shouted “strike, strike, strike” when the offer - which would have meant a real-terms pay cut for some staff as it would be below the rate of inflation - was rejected by 137-37 votes.

Mr McDonnell, who has a history of supporting workers during industrial disputes, today hinted he could join staff on a walkout if they strike over the row.

“I am not averse to joining picket lines,” he said when asked by PoliticsHome whether he might show solidarity in a strike.

He added: “I’m hoping it gets settled as rapidly as possible. I’m hoping both sides will get around the negotiating table and resolve it as quickly as possible.”

The party's initial pay offer was £600 per person, which was later increased to £750. Both were unanimously rejected by Labour staff.

In their latest offer letter to the trade unions, the party said: "We can confirm that this is the final offer that can be achieved through negotiation, so please ensure your members are aware of this when they are making their decision."

Unite - which is the biggest financial backer of the Labour party - was joined by the GMB union in recommending staff accept the latest offer.

But it was rejected at the meeting, with one person saying: "We're supposed to be the f*****g Labour party."

Labour general secretary Jennie Formby was forced to apologise last week after appearing to suggest that the party's maternity conditions were partly to blame for the low pay offer.