MICK LYNCH, general secretary of the RMT rail workers union, has denounced Labour leader Keir Starmer for being ‘not on the side of workers’ and said that Labour had ‘lost touch’ with its support for workers under his leadership.
The RMT is preparing to carry out the overwhelming vote for national strike action on the railways in the coming weeks while the Tories have announced their intention to fight it out with the RMT by declaring the strike illegal.
The national strike has been called over the drive by the Tory government and the private rail companies to impose wage and massive job cuts along with an attack on the working conditions of 40,000 RMT members.
Clearly, the RMT is facing a fight to the finish with a Tory government that is determined to smash the union as a prelude for taking on and defeating every struggle by workers and their unions against having the inflationary crisis of capitalism dumped on their backs.
In this fight, Lynch has no doubt that Starmer and the Labour Party will be supporting the Tories not the workers.
Lynch said: ‘I’ve seen no response from the Labour frontbench which says, “We support the workers in their struggles”.’
Interviewed by the BBC, Lynch included the leadership of the TUC in his condemnation, saying: ‘I tell the TUC … you’ve got to get out of your offices and into the streets and into the working-class towns around the country, and build it up again as if we were Victorians.’
When asked if he thought there would be many more disputes and strikes as inflation destroys the wages of workers, Lynch said: ‘I hope so’ but he insisted ‘there is not going to be a general strike’.
While it is to his credit that Lynch is prepared to lead a national strike in defence of his members’ wages and conditions, it is clear that he does not comprehend the depth of the capitalist crisis and the determination of the ruling class to make workers pay for it.
The idea that there can be a return to the old days of Victorian Britain when the trade unions were formed in bitter class struggle by workers is dangerously wrong.
In those days, British capitalism was wealthy, gorged on the profits from its imperial empire which flooded in.
These super-profits from imperial domination enabled the ruling class to make concessions to the working class in terms of pay and conditions that led to the growth of trade unions.
But today there can be no return to the ‘good old days’ of compromise and concessions over wages and conditions.
On the contrary, today capitalism is in its greatest crisis ever as it faces inflation spiralling out of control, accelerated by the imperialist war against Russia in the Ukraine.
With the British economy careering into recession and millions of working class households unable to pay for food or energy, the ruling class have their backs firmly against the wall with no option but to fight it out with the unions and workers to impose this crisis on them.
It is under these conditions that the determination of trade union leaders like Lynch to appreciate the need for the unions to struggle is to be applauded – but it is not enough!
What is required above all is a strategy to win – not just to fight and hope that some concessions can be wrung from the Tories and the bosses.
It is no good fighting if you are not prepared to go all the way to win, that is the lesson that needs to be driven home.
This means a programme for the working class to take power and put an end to this bankrupt capitalist system by organising a general strike to bring down the Tories and go forward to a workers’ government that will expropriate the capitalists and go forward to a socialist planned economy.
The march and demonstration called by the TUC for June 18 must be the day a general strike is called.
Only the WRP fights for this programme as the only way forward for workers and youth – join today.