Today, over 40,000 workers across Network Rail and 14 train operating companies are continuing national strike action called by the RMT union over pay, job security, and working conditions, with the train drivers union Aslef striking on Saturday.
Yesterday, the Trades Union Congress made a direct appeal to the Tories to intervene, with TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady saying: ‘We all want to see successful negotiations to end this dispute.’
She blamed Tory transport secretary Grant Shapps for ‘giving secret instructions to rail firms behind the scenes and stopping them coming to a deal.’
In fact, the instruction being given by the Tories is clearly to ramp up the threats to rail workers, with RMT general secretary Mick Lynch reporting that Network Rail are now ‘threatening to impose compulsory redundancies and unsafe 50% cuts to maintenance work if we do not withdraw our planned strike action.’
The wave of national strike action by workers, not prepared to see their wages and lives destroyed while the bosses and shareholders live in luxury on the profits provided by the labour of the working class, intensified this week.
40,000 members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) employed by BT and Openreach will strike on Friday and next Monday in the first such national action since 1987.
CWU members are incensed that, despite record profits of £2 billion last year with millions handed out to shareholders, BT have imposed a wage-cutting offer of a £1,500 flat rate payment, and refused all negotiations with the union.
BT are clearly prepared for a showdown with CWU members at a time when some BT staff are so poorly paid that foodbanks have been set up in some workplaces.
Being forced to rely on the charity of foodbanks is now widespread throughout the UK.
In Wales, NHS staff received an email from the NWSSP group that provides employment support for health workers informing them how to access a foodbank.
The working class has demonstrated conclusively that it is not prepared to passively accept foodbanks and is taking action with a national strike wave that is fast developing into a general strike.
The trade unions are in a head-on collision with a Tory government and ruling class that is preparing for a showdown, and all the appeals from the TUC to the Tories is nothing more than a cowardly refusal to fight.
The Tories have made it clear that they are preparing to declare strikes illegal, and force destitution on workers using the law to make unions illegal.
Liz Truss, the leading candidate for next Tory leader and prime minister, made this clear on Monday when she promised to bring in an emergency law for minimum services in all critical national infrastructure in the first 30 days of any government she leads.
Teachers, postal workers, all those working in the energy and transport sectors along with doctors, nurses and the entire public sector who are taking or preparing to take strike action over pay, will face the might of the courts and police to force them to work.
Mick Lynch immediately responded saying: ‘Truss is proposing to make effective trade unionism illegal in Britain and to rob working people of a key democratic right.’
He added: ‘If these proposals become law, there will be the biggest resistance mounted by the entire trade union movement, rivalling the General Strike of 1926, the Suffragettes and Chartism.’
There is no time to wait for the Tories to carry out their preparations to crush the working class and its unions by using the law backed up by a police state.
Immediately, the TUC leaders who are reduced to begging the Tories for help must be removed and replaced with a new leadership prepared to immediately mobilise the strength of the working class in a general strike to kick out this collapsing Tory government and go forward to a workers’ government and a planned socialist economy.
Only the WRP and its youth section the Young Socialist are preparing to organise the strength of the working class to put an end to bankrupt capitalism by seizing power and going forward to socialism. Join today.