Union boss Mick Lynch made a splash during Tuesday’s rail strikes with a series of eye-catching TV appearances.
As the general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), Mr Lynch has been a key figure in the dispute over jobs, pay and conditions. Around 40,000 members of the RMT were involved in Tuesday’s action, which led to only around 20% of trains running across the country.
Further strikes are planned on Thursday and Saturday, though talks to resolve the dispute are ongoing. But should they go ahead, Mr Lynch will likely be a regular presence on our TV screens for some time to come.
Who is RMT boss Mick Lynch?
Mr Lynch has been the general secretary of the RMT union since May 2021. The year before, he had stepped up to the role of acting general secretary for a period when the previous boss, Mick Cash, was unwell.
Brought up on a council estate in Paddington in London, he qualified as an electrician and worked in the construction industry. After being blacklisted because of his union involvement, he moved to work on the railways in 1993.
He subsequently received a compensation payment for being illegally blacklisted. As a rail worker, he joined the RMT and served two terms on its executive.
His term as acting general secretary was cut short when he stood down saying there was a “toxic” atmosphere among the executive. Nonetheless, he was elected to the role permanently less than a year later.
What did Mick Lynch say on Tuesday?
Mr Lynch was a prominent figure on TV and radio during Tuesday’s strike action. A series of eye-catching appearances, in which he went head to head with Sky News host Kay Burley, Tory MP Jonathan Gullis and Labour’s Baroness Chapman, earned him plaudits on social media.
Speaking on the BBC’s Politics Live he said Mr Gullis “should apologise for talking nonsense” after the Stoke-on-Trent North MP suggested he should say sorry to the “doctors and nurses who can’t get to hospital, the patients who can’t get their operation, the kids who miss out on their education”. He also told Baroness Chapman: “I don’t even know who you are.”
In an interview with Ms Burley on Sky News, he said the presenter’s questions were “verging into the nonsense”. In a line of questioning about what strikers would do if agency staff crossed the picket line, he said she had “gone off into a world that isn’t real”, and said: “I can’t believe this line of questioning.”
How was Mick Lynch received?
Mr Lynch’s performances on TV earned him a number of high-profile admirers on social media. Actor Hugh Laurie tweeted: “I don’t know enough about the rail dispute. I only observe that RMT’s Mick Lynch cleaned up every single media picador who tried their luck today.”
Singer Tracey Thorn wrote: “Very much here for Mick Lynch’s interview technique. More of this kind of plain speaking and refusal to be treated like an idiot please.”
What else has Mick Lynch said about the rail strikes?
After Tuesday’s strike, Mr Lynch said the turnout was “fantastic”. He said: “Our members will continue the campaign and have shown outstanding unity in the pursuit of a settlement to this dispute.
“RMT members are leading the way for all workers in this country who are sick and tired of having their pay and conditions slashed by a mixture of big business profits and Government policy. Now is the time to stand up and fight for every single railway worker in this dispute that we will win.”