ANAS Sarwar has urged his frontbenchers and MSPs to defy Sir Keir Starmer and join striking workers on the picket lines. 

The call from the Scottish Labour leader comes just days after the UK party boss suggested standing on a picket line was incompatible with aspiring to government. 

RMT members of Network Rail will down tools tomorrow in a Britain-wide strike that will leave just 11 ScotRail services running. 

They will walk out again on Saturday. 

Meanwhile, around 250 refuse workers in Edinburgh will strike today in a row over pay, in what the union has described as the "first wave" of wider strike action across Scotland

Earlier this week, Sir Keir was asked by Sky News if there were any circumstances where he would stand on a picket line, he said: "No.”

He added: “I want to be prime minister of the country. I want to see a Labour government.

"The single most important thing, effective thing, that we can do for the working people who are really struggling, which I completely understand, is to have a Labour government and the role of government, the role of the prime minister is to resolve issues, whether issues in whatever sector they are, and you can't sit around the cabinet table and then go to a picket line."

His Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves agreed, saying Labour MPs on picket lines would “fan the flames” and would not be “fair to people who are using and relying on those services.”

When The Herald asked Mr Sarwar if he would join a picket line tomorrow, he replied: “Well, I'm happy to join people on a picket line. I have no opposition to joining our trade union colleagues on the picket line and I've no hesitation in demonstrating my solidarity with them. 

“I've been on a picket line with the RMT already, I've been out with ASLEF workers. I've met with Unite workers, some of them who will be going on strike tomorrow in Edinburgh. I've met with Unison workers. I was out with Usdaw workers at the weekend. 

“So you know, I encourage my MSPs and my frontbenchers to be out there demonstrating that solidarity and support for working people across the country. 

“But I think there's a really, really big, wider point here: these workers don't want to strike, the unions don't want to strike, the public don't want to see strikes, but all three of them demand better. 

“They demand better from both our governments and I think it's important that we demonstrate solidarity, but we also listen to people's concerns and advocate our solution to those concerns, which is what we will continue to do.”

Scottish Conservative Shadow Transport Minister Graham Simpson criticised Mr Sarwar.

He said: “Passengers unable to go about their business will be aghast to see Scottish Labour’s leader on the picket lines, supporting these selfish RMT strikes.

“The country is being held to ransom by a militant union that would rather cause disruption than get round the negotiating table and be part of the solution.

"Even Keir Starmer knows this is unjustifiable. But with his blatant grandstanding Anas Sarwar has shown himself to be firmly on the side of this militant union.”

Sir Keir has already sacked one frontbencher after he joined a picket line. 

Transport minister Sam Tarry joined members of the RMT on the picket line outside Euston station in London and gave a number of interviews to broadcast media.

The party denied he had been sacked for simply joining the strike but because he appeared on TV without permission and did not speak to an "agreed frontbench position."

The decision sparked a furious backlash from the unions. Kevin Lindsay, ASLEF's Scottish Organiser, quit the party claiming that Sir Keir was more interested in trying to “woo Tory voters in the shires of England than representing working people.”

Earlier this month, Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling-up secretary, appeared alongside striking workers from the Communication Workers Union (CWU) at a picket line in her constituency of Wigan.

However, Sir Keir did not reprimand her. 

Mr Sarwar was also asked about newly published accounts showing that Labour lost more than 91,000 members last year.

He said the party in Scotland was "continuing to grow and move in the right direction."

He added: "Our pollubf numbers are continuing to increase. We've gone from third place to second place in the last election but I've continuously said I don't aspire for second place I aspire for first place and I want to deliver a Labour Party worthy of the name for people here in Scotland.

"And I want to deliver a Labour party in power right across the UK and in power here in Scotland making a difference to people's lives. 

"And I think even my biggest critics would recognise that we're doing that with positivity. We're doing that with energy and we're - they may begrudgingly accept this - moving in the right direction.

"But is there more work to do? Absolutely."

The party treasurer’s report, logged with the Electoral Commission, revealed that Labour had 432,213 members across the UK as of 31 December 2021, compared with 523,332 the previous year.