The summer of discontent builds
Over 20 RMT and supporter rallies were held on the third day of the RMT strike, 25 June, with many different unions and their banners held high in England, Scotland and Wales – All against the cuts in pay, staff and pensions.
Danny reported, “A fantastic show of support for the RMT picket at Swansea station this morning with a mass picket of over 70 and speakers from joint hosts RMT and Swansea Trades Council along with Unite, Unison, ASLEF, CWU Postal, CWU Telecoms, USDAW.” Ashley reports there were 200 in Manchester and Martin said that 300 attended in Liverpool.
There was a rally at Kings Cross in London, where striking hospital workers from St George’s Hospital in Tooting, who are in a pay dispute, turned up to support several hundred rail workers and activists at a rally by King’s Cross station, London. The GMB hospital workers are calling for their boss Mitie to be removed and for staff contracts to be taken back in-house by the Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Many contributions referred to Mick Lynch’s rebuttal of attacks on the RMT and the strike on TV and social media, who managed to make the Tory and press hounds a laughingstock. In addition to the Tories, the Lib Dems attacked the RMT strike, while the Labour leader Starmer is against supporting pickets, and Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy condemned the strikes – because they “hurt” working people. The Tories lead a class war. Their lieutenants support them.
“We cannot be divided. Do not fall for the tricks of the media. Trying to play a nurse against a railway worker. Trying to play a cleaner against a caterer. It is absolute nonsense. We are a rainbow we come from all over the world. Everyone who wants to earn a living is welcome in this country. Nobody is illegal.” Mick Lynch on speaking at a rally (Twitter).
There is growing union action; 11,000 Rolls Royce workers and the Unite shop stewards committees reject a one-off payment of £2,000 and 4%. 700 Unite members in Bristol on Thursday, from across three shifts—chanted, “Eight or the gate.” (i.e., 8% or they strike). Bristol is part of the combined collective bargaining group that includes six other company sites. In June, Aslef train and tram drivers organised strikes in Hull, Greater Anglia and Croydon.
On 28 June, ballot papers will be sent to Royal Mail Group members. It means the CWU will have live ballots covering over 165,000 members.
What RMT members think
ISL talked to a guard at the rally on Saturday. He explained the guards have been in dispute for years in many areas because train companies have been trying to get guards removed from trains, with driver-only trains.
What do you think of the RMT and the situation in the country?
“I think we are seeing the beginning of national unrest over our conditions. The Tories’ concerted effort to quell union action is also what the Labour Party leadership is trying to do.
“I think we are very close to civil unrest; the drivers for that are inequality, a noticeable gap between the rich and the poor that widens constantly.
“The government is preparing for civil unrest and trade union action by passing through Parliament many draconian laws which remove workers’ rights. They are organising a class war against the RMT and hope to break the union.
“The unhappiness amongst workers is spreading in workplace unions and non-union workplaces.
“The other day when Mick Lynch spoke on the media, in the first hour afterwards, there was a 184% spike on a TUC webpage on how they can join a union. That tells you about the hunger in people that want better.
“The unions need to work together to get the maximum impact; we need to coordinate our strikes too. I agree with the need for the TUC to coordinate national strikes. Strikes are inevitable, but they will not coordinate themselves. We need to work to coordinate them. And that will have a far more reaching impact.”
Darren Pilling, NW Regional Secretary RMT
ISL: What is your concern about the health and safety proposals?
“I am not a maintenance worker, but I know many of them; in our RMT branch, we have all grades. The rail company proposals mean the frequency of checks on the track and all existing infrastructure will have to be reduced.
“We are not playing with toys; trains are very very dangerous. We have always taken safety very, very seriously. That means for guards on the train or maintenance on the track. It is paramount for the safety of the trains.
“Someone said recently that they could now use drones to check the track, but I have never seen a drone tighten up a track. Their proposals will make rail work unsafe and create less safe travel for the travelling public.
“They talk of a correlation between cost and safety. But health and safety representatives cannot compromise on health and safety. About the guards’ dispute, they said the cost outweighs the benefits.
“But we cannot compromise for workplace safety or the travelling public.”
“The member organisations of the International Trade Union Network for Solidarity and Struggle [ILNSS], and the Rail Without Borders Network, support the strike call by RMT and the strikers; we will make this movement known in our different countries. International solidarity of workers!” (laboursolidarity.org/Solidarity-with-the-Striking)
The Brazilian CSP Conlutas union central is part of the ILNSS. One of the union federations is Fenametro, a national federation of metro workers. There are nine city or state metro trade unions linked to Fenametro. The biggest is in São Paulo. This is their message of solidarity.
“I’m Narciso, General Coordinator of the Metro Workers Trade Union of São Paulo, Brazil. I want to show all my solidarity with the rail workers in Britain. You are carrying on a great national strike, with strong picket lines in many cities; you can count on the solidarity of the Metro Workers Trade Union of São Paulo, as well as the CSP-Conlutas central. We are together in this fight. Stay firm in your fight until victory is reached, and congratulations on the amazing strike you’ve been staging. Count on us in solidarity.”
Full support for RMT strike and pickets!
Unions take national action to support the RMT!
TUC organise a national conference to coordinate strikes and organise a general strike!