SOUTHEASTERN rail collapsed into public ownership yesterday with the RMT revealing the true cost of the government’s slavish devotion to subsidising private profit capitalism.
In its new report titled ‘The unbearable cost of failure: Private profiteering on Great British Railways’, the RMT reveals that
- During the pandemic year, when the taxpayer had taken on the full cost of the railways, train operating companies and rolling stock companies (ROSCOs) stand to make more than £1.1 billion in dividend payments to their shareholders;
- If the government continues to prop up the failed private train operators, they will extract more than £950 million in profits to be distributed as dividends between 2020 and 2027, not including the annual suction of around £260 million by the ROSCOs;
- Taking the remaining franchises into public ownership would stop this leakage of profits and in just one year could fund an inflation-matching pay rise for all staff;
- Placing a windfall tax of 50% on ROSCO profits would fund a 3.6% fare cut for passengers.
These revelations come in the same week that the Rail Delivery Group announced its intention to cut thousands of staff jobs from the railway and just ahead of the COP26 summit. The union says the research shows that the government is failing the British people and denying the climate crisis through its addiction to failed dogma.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘Cold, hard reality is staring this government in the face yet its slavish devotion to the profiteers stops it seeing what is blindingly apparent to everyone else.
‘Private sector train operation is a write-off and Southeastern should be followed by every single remaining franchise coming into public ownership. But instead, the government is overseeing service cuts and funding a redundancy programme in a desperate attempt to make rail cheap enough to flog back to the same people who have failed time and time again.
‘This is a ludicrous situation. The government should take all the franchises back into public ownership once and for all and use its Spending Review to fund an expansion of rail that can support a mass mode shift in transport.
‘Finish the job, cut out the spivs and stop the cuts.’
RMT has also announced that strike action on Stagecoach buses in the South West goes ahead today as part of the fight for pay justice for bus workers.
The union has warned that the failure to tackle poverty pay in the bus industry is brewing up a skills crisis which threatens the future of lifeline services across the South West.
The scandal of bus worker pay, where drivers earn less than £23,000 for taking responsibility for the safety of a packed vehicle and are left alone and vulnerable late at night, is sparking an exodus which will hit school children and the poorest in our communities hard.
The union has also reacted angrily to attempts by Stagecoach managers to try and link any pay deal to cuts to existing staff benefits, meaning that a pay increase would only be awarded with savage reductions in sick pay and other basic working conditions.
The RMT’s Mick Lynch said: ‘Tomorrow’s action by Stagecoach members reflects the growing disgust amongst South West bus workers at being kicked in the teeth on pay while inflation and wages elsewhere are rising steeply.
‘When drivers and other staff, who are key transport professionals providing lifeline services, can earn more in supermarkets and fast-food joints, it’s no wonder they are voting with their feet in the current labour market!’
The essence of the current crisis situation is that capitalism is going down and is due for a huge collapse in the New Year that will put millions out of work.
Now is the time for the RMT to push forward and to demand an immediate special meeting of the TUC General Council to call a general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government and a nationalised and planned socialist economy.
There is not a moment to lose! Organise the general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers’ government and socialism!