ON WEDNESDAY, the RMT transport union members won a massive victory in their fight against the ‘pitiful’ pay offer from ScotRail.
RMT members at ScotRail, presently privately owned but due to be taken over by the SNP led Scottish government, had overwhelmingly rejected the latest pay deal, driven by Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish government who attempted to put a ‘gun against their head’ by demanding they accept the deal by 5pm on Wednesday or it would be removed – presumably to be imposed without agreement.
The ‘deal’ ScotRail was seeking to impose included a 2.5% pay increase for this year followed by a 2.2% increase for next.
It contained a whole series of cost cutting and speed-up measures, productivity strings that were unacceptable to RMT members who voted overwhelmingly for strike action to coincide with COP26 (the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow) meeting of international leaders.
Despite the gun-to-the head tactic of Wednesday’s deadline ScotRail workers, along with RMT members working for Caledonian Sleeper, refused to back down and won the unanimous support of the union’s Annual General Meeting.
As the deadline approached it was the SNP Scottish government that caved in and was forced to agree to dropping the productivity strings, awarding a 2.5% increase (backdated to April 1st 2021) and dropping next year’s pay award in favour of renewed pay bargaining. In addition, they agreed to a £300 bonus to be paid to all staff for their work during COP26.
The strike now moves to the Caledonian Sleeper – which is operated by the privateer SERCO under the supervision of the Scottish government – with the RMT demanding pay parity and justice for SERCO Caledonian Sleeper staff.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘After last night’s ScotRail pay deal we have no intention of leaving our Caledonian Sleeper members behind.’
He added: ‘We have proved that the money is there if the will is there and we will hear no more excuses from SERCO now that the benchmark has been set on ScotRail.’
In fact, the victory at ScotRail has set the benchmark for every trade union member as workers increasingly recognise their strength.
It is reflected throughout Scotland where public sector and local authority workers are striking during next month’s COP26 summit.
Council workers in over half of Scotland’s local authorities are coming out over pay demands.
This mass movement is not confined to Scotland.
Across the country, NHS staff are being balloted for industrial action over the ‘insulting’ 3% pay rise imposed by the Tories last July.
The GMB union is in the final stages of approving strike action over the demand for a salary increase of 15%, while thousands of NHS paramedics, nurses and cleaners are being balloted over whether they are willing to strike over pay in a so-called ‘consultative ballot’.
Health workers from cleaners to GPs are now openly campaigning for strike action against the Tory austerity attacks on wages and services.
The working class is demonstrating that it doesn’t need consultative ballots on whether to ballot for strike action – they are champing at the bit to take on the employers and the Tory government to defend their wages, conditions and services.
The victory of the RMT union at ScotRail demonstrates the way forward for the TUC and every union today.
The working class is on the move and will be spurred on by the Tory budget that gave huge tax cuts to the bosses and bankers and wage cuts to workers.
Members must demand an end to those leaders in the TUC who refuse to call for any action to defend their members and instead just beg the Tories for crumbs off the capitalist table and demand a fight for a 15% across the board pay rise for every worker.
The strike wave developing across the country must be turned into a general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers’ government.
A workers’ government will expropriate the main industries and banks placing them under the management of the working class under a planned socialist economy.
Only the WRP fights for this policy – Join Today.