Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram among mayors backing workers' rights to strike for 'livelihoods'

 Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham from Zoom presser
Both Metro mayors signed a statement backing workers' right to strike.

Two of the North West's metro mayors have backed workers' right to strike, warning that the cost of living crisis is "forcing an increasing number of people into industrial disputes".

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and Liverpool's metro mayor Steve Rotheram joined three other Labour mayors in signing a statement saying striking is at times the only remaining means for people to "defend their livelihoods".

Those compelled to take a stand recently include rail workers, barristers and airport staff.

They expressed their support for "the right to take action to protect jobs, safety, pensions, pay and conditions", arguing that paying a "fair wage" is not "too much ask".

Barristers gather outside Liverpool Crown Court in a dispute over pay. Credit: PA

The statement is also signed by Labour and Co-operative mayors Nik Johnson, of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Oliver Coppard, of South Yorkshire, and Jamie Driscoll, of North of Tyne.

"As metro mayors we work every day with businesses to boost our regional economies," they said.

"Our Good Work Charters and Good Work Pledges are supported by hundreds of enlightened employers covering tens of thousands of workers. Many employers are exemplary and look after their workforce.

"Sadly, this doesn't always happen. We've seen a worrying increase in fire and rehire.

"No one wants to see strikes happening. But at times, the only means working people have left to defend their livelihoods is industrial action. We support the right to take action to protect jobs, safety, pensions, pay and conditions."

Members of Unite union on strike at Stagecoach on Merseyside. Credit: ITV News

The mayors warned there could be "many more" workers, including teachers, doctors and other NHS staff, who are compelled to strike.

"The cost-of-living crisis is forcing an increasing number of people into industrial disputes," they said.

"Rail workers, criminal barristers, airport check-in staff. And there could be many more, including teachers, doctors, other NHS staff, postal and telecoms workers. This affects everyone.

"Paying a fair wage to the people who keep our country running isn't too much ask. We urge employers to meet with trade unions and negotiate an end to these disputes."

Rail workers on the picket line. Credit: PA

It comes as barrister strikes continue at criminal courts around the country for a second week.

Industrial action on the railways crippled Britain's transport network last month, with the prospect of further disruption on the horizon.

Holidaymakers also face chaos at airports this summer as BA staff demand the 10% of pay they had "stolen" from them last year as they faced fire and rehire tactics.

Mr Burnham previously gave his backing to workers going on strike as he sought to downplay his Labour leadership ambitions.

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