The RMT general secretary, who started working on the railways in 1993 with Eurostar has been inserted into Chuck Norris punchline jokes and hailed by many following a spate of television interviews this week amid the rail strikes.
The union boss has become a hit on social media with his combative media exchanges with many claiming he ‘eviscerates’ certain lines of questioning with his bluntness and his direct interview style, with many hailing him for his direct approach to interviews and his approach to MPs such as Jonathan Gullis, Robert Jenrick.
One fan on social media wrote: “I almost joined the RMT, and I’m a farmer” while others hailed his refreshing honesty.
He hit out at railways making profits but not paying workers properly telling Sky: “They’re using the temporary phenomenon of Covid as a smokescreen to get rid of decent conditions and decent pay rates.”
He was also hailed for his comments to Kay Burley on picketing, his handling of questions from Richard Madeley on GMB, Piers Morgan and other interviews.
Who is Mick Lynch and what has he said about the rail strikes?
Lynch is the secretary general of the RMT, taking over in the role in May last year. At the time of his victory he said: ““I will maximise the unity of our great organisation, bringing together every sector and grade to build our union’s membership, influence and power. We will grow our union in every workplace as a strong and dynamic force.”
Lynch left school at 16 – and was blacklisted illegally – with him later claiming a settlement 20 years later. He joined the Eurostar service in 1993 before serving as RMT’s assistant secretary general
Announcing the rail strikes in front of the RMT’s headquarters he pointed to the “fingerprints of Grant Shapps and the DNA of Rishi Sunak” for the problems on the railway, adding ministers were “going backwards many years”
He said: “What the rest of the country suffers from is the lack of power, the lack of the ability to organise and the lack of the wherewithal to take on these employers that are continually driving down wages and making the working class in this country poorer year on year on year.”
What did Mick Lynch say to Kay Burley during Sky interview?
Mick Lynch accused Kay Burley of “verging on nonsense” during an interview from London Waterloo on the first day of the strikes after she repeatedly asked what the RMT would do if they were approached on picket lines by agency workers.
Rather than flustering however, Lynch simply said that the union would continue to picket, ask people not to go to work and gestured to the peaceful scenes behind him. When asked again, he responded saying: “"Well we will picket them, what do you think we'll do? "Do you not know how a picket line works?"
Burley responded: "I very much know how a picket line works, I'm much older than I look” before continuing her line of questioning saying: "What will picketing involve?"
Lynch once again turned to look at picketers behind him before turning back and saying: "You can see what picketing involves. "I can't believe this line of questioning."
After the Sky News said she was sorry that he felt the need to ridicule her – he retorted "Your questions are verging into the nonsense”
What did Mick Lynch say to Piers Morgan during TalkTV interview?
Piers Morgan also interviewed Lynch on TalkTV but stayed away from many of the matters regarding the strike, instead quizzing him on his Facebook profile photo which was the criminal mastermind The Hood from Thunderbirds.
Morgan asked the RMT boss: “Why don’t you just confirm or deny if this is your Facebook page. It’s a picture of The Hood from Thunderbirds?” Once confirmed, Morgan asked: “Well I’m just wondering where the comparison goes because he was obviously an evil, criminal terrorist mastermind, described as the world’s most dangerous man who wrecked utter carnage and havoc on the public.”
Lynch responded curtly saying: “He’s the most evil puppet made out of vinyl in the world. Is that the level journalism’s at these days?”
He later added: “Don’t you want to talk about the issues rather than a little vinyl puppet from the 1960s.”
What has Mick Lynch said about Grant Shapps
“Until the Government unshackle Network Rail and the train operating companies, it is not going to be possible for a negotiated settlement to be agreed.
“We will continue with our industrial campaign until we get a negotiated settlement that delivers job security and a pay rise for our members that deals with the escalating cost-of-living crisis.”
But Mr Shapps accused Mr Lynch of telling a “total lie”, arguing he had “absolutely nothing to do” with the issuing of a letter from Network Rail or any request to withdraw it.
Who has praised Mick Lynch?
Andrew Marr said he would pay "good money" for ringside seats if Mick Lynch and Boris Johnson were ever to "go nose-to-nose" over strikes, and criticised Keir Starmer's leadership.
Actor Hugh Laurie also praised the union boss for his performance in interviews saying after the Kay Burley interview: “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.”
Another social media user wrote: ““Is it just me or if Mick Lynch was leader of the Labour party it would be 20 points clear in the polls? In every interview he has been immense.”
Do Britons support the rail strikes?
Most adults believe the rail strikes are justified, according to an opinion poll.
A survey of more than 2,300 people by Savanta ComRes showed that 58% said the industrial action is justified.
Younger adults aged 18-34 (72%) and Labour voters (79%) were more likely to see the strikes as justified compared to their older, aged 55 and above, (44%) and Conservative-voting (38%) counterparts.
Three out of five of those polled said they are generally supportive of the principle of industrial action, while just 35% were generally opposed.
RMT picketers near King’s Cross station say they have been given homemade flapjacks and sweets by supportive members of the public.
One man admitted he had expected more of an “adverse reaction” before the rail strikes began on Tuesday.
“We’ve had people bringing us gifts along, things to eat, water, homemade flapjacks, foods, to make sure we’re looked after,” he said.
Noting a bag of “fun-size” chocolates nearby, he continued: “That was delivered by a lady who came on Tuesday, she’s actually been twice to us now.
“She’s coming along saying, ‘you guys are doing a great job, well done for doing what you’re doing because it’s needed in this country – someone needs to make a stand’.”
At the opposite end of the station, another man with a red RMT flag appeared to be conducting a protest of one.
“Solidarity, man,” said one passer-by, as he laid his flag on the floor to tie his shoelace.