Millions for Shareholders, cuts for rail workers
TUC organise a general strike
By International Socialist League, Britain
The RMT rail strike, day two, is growing in strength, with more RMT members and more solidarity on the picket lines. As we said in the “Day 1 of the RMT national strike”, the lies that the RMT does not want to negotiate, that the pickets are going to act like thugs, that wage increases cause inflation or that the RMT only care about themselves is Tory, media, or bosses hot air.
Last time we reported from London, Port Talbot, Stockport and Liverpool. On Day 2, we got a report by Matt from Cambridge: “No one maintenance worker went into work, 98% out at the station. A maintenance worker told me that ‘100% of the staff voted to strike’, only managers/TSSA are in, and some have switched to RMT.
“One notable thing was that the pickets were saying that if they cave then it’ll affect everyone else – they are clearly seeing it as a class question as opposed to a workplace dispute.”
In London, more trade unionists showing solidarity, such as UVW activists, were at the RMT picket line at Waterloo Station.
On the question of money
We reported on Day 1 that the rail shareholders were paid £500 million last year, but that was for one company, the UK’s largest train operator. Others include:
- FirstGroup gave shareholders £500m in December 2021.
- Abellio, which runs Greater Anglia, East Midlands Railway and West Midlands Railway, paid back €329m (£288m) to its sole shareholder – the Netherlands state.
- In the 2021/22 financial year, FirstGroup CEO Matthew Gregory was paid £840,000 – 6% more than he received in 2019-2020.
- Go-Ahead Group, which operates the Govia Thameslink Railway, paid its interim chief financial officer a salary of £100,000 a month from September 2021 to March 2022
- The CEOs of the six biggest train companies were paid a combined salary of more than £5m in 2020.
Every RMT member whom we have spoken to knows that the Thatcher government set up a privatised system of considerable payments to the rich, and Blair and Johnson honed the technique to allow more money to rush upstairs.
It is reported that train companies paid out nearly £800m to shareholders last year before telling rail unions that employees must take a real pay cut for them to stay afloat.ii
After working during COVID they attack us
This text was sent to Old Swan Against the Cuts by Craig Pearson, an RMT activist.
“March 2020 and a virus is spreading across the UK like wildfire, then on the 23rd the PM announces a national lockdown, all non-essential premises to close, people had to stay and work from home, and elderly people in care homes were the lambs to the slaughter. As a key worker and a member of railway station staff who was told to carry on working to keep the country on the move, the lack of PPE put staff at risk as staff were still dealing with members of the public who travelled in some cases for ‘essential travel’, bosses sent members of staff videos from home praising staff and calling us heroes.
“Now move on to June 2022, everything is nearly back to normal, and railway staff are now getting treated like zeros. Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, and all the other cronies in this heartless government have decided to pick a fight with the RMT. The government has an agenda, and this is it: they want to get rid of 2,000 Network rail staff to save £2bn, to make 600 tube workers redundant, have unstaffed ticket offices all over the UK, no guards on trains, redundancies, no protection of their pensions and to rip up the T&Cs that Unions have fought for over many years.
“Most of all rail workers have had a pay freeze for the last three years, so an inflation-linked wage rise, no redundancies, protection of pensions and untouched T&Cs isn’t much to ask for. But being a realist, I know that this won’t happen as Shapps won’t even enter into negotiations to try and sort this out, so this is the fight of our lives; we have to stay solid, and if more industrial action is needed then we have to get involved and need the general public with us. They are trying to get the general public on their side, which they hope will divide and conquer. Still, people all over the UK are suffering the same issues, Eye-watering energy bills, food prices rocketing, petrol prices going up every day, inflation at nearly 11% – it goes on and on. More unions will soon be voting for industrial action, and we must show solidarity to them as they have shown us.”
The lively RMT pickets are growing, and activist and union support also rose on the 2nd Day of their great national strike. No doubt, 25 June is going to be an even more significant event across Britain, and rallies are being held on picket lines in several cities.
The depth of attack by the government is vicious. It means everyone must be involved in demanding that employers and government meet the proposals of the RMT. Employer demands (controlled by the government) will undermine the health and safety of rail workers and the travelling public. Every worker will be affected by this; who does not know a family member or friend who travels by train?
Commenting on today’s first rail strike since 1989, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Today’s turnout at picket lines has been fantastic and exceeded expectations in our struggle for job security, defending conditions and a decent pay rise. Our members will continue the campaign and have shown great unity in 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.”
Full support for RMT strike and pickets!
All unions take national action to support the RMT!
TUC organise a national conference to coordinate strikes and organise a general strike!