Tory Government Is Going For A Showdown With The Rail Unions!

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THE cost of living is now rocketing thanks to PM Johnson’s and Foreign Secretary Truss’ determination to inflame the war in the Ukraine and turn it into ‘our war’ against Russia.

World food prices are now rocketing upwards while trade unions are seeking to do their duty, which is to see that their members’ living standards are not smashed to pieces by the growing worldwide capitalist economic and political crisis.

Rail workers in Scotland are to be balloted for strike action, following ScotRail’s derisory pay offer of 2.2%!

The RMT states: ‘RPI inflation is running at 11.1%, and transport workers have already been subjected to repeated pay freezes and real terms cuts in living standards.’

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘ScotRail needs to put its hands deeper into its pockets and start rewarding their staff properly. We are in the midst of a brutal cost of living crisis for workers, but it is still party time for shareholders, speculators and big business executives.’

However, next Tuesday, a strike ballot result for Network Rail is to be made public. Over 40,000 railway workers on Network Rail and 15 train operating companies (TOCs) have been balloted for strike action in what the RMT calls ‘potentially the biggest rail strike in modern history’.

Network Rail intends to cut at least 2,500 safety critical maintenance jobs as part of a £2bn reduction in spending on the network. Staff on the TOCs have already been subjected to pay freezes, threats to jobs and attacks on their terms and conditions. A national railway strike could begin as early as June.

Mick Lynch said: ‘Railway workers have had to contend with pay freezes, the prospect of losing their jobs and repeated attacks on their terms and conditions. Removing 2,500 safety critical jobs from Network Rail will spell disaster for the public, make accidents more likely and will increase the possibility of trains flying off the tracks.

‘Train Operating Companies have praised our members for being key workers during the pandemic but have refused to keep staff pay in line with inflation and soaring living costs. As a result, thousands of railway workers have seen their living standards plummet and have run out of patience.’

The RMT concluded that: ‘A national rail strike will bring the country to a standstill, but our members livelihoods and passenger safety are our priorities.’

This strike will be supported by every worker! In fact the TSSA has already decided to co-ordinate with the RMT. The government, however, has other plans. The Sunday Telegraph has been told by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that emergency laws are being prepared requiring a minimum of rail staff to work during a strike.

If these levels are not met then the strike action will be illegal and the unions will no doubt be fined millions. The government, meanwhile, is preparing more legal action. This time against the teaching trade unions.

It wants to amend the Employment Relations Act. Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, wants a legal situation imposed on teachers whereby a grievance or disciplinary meeting would be attended by a lawyer in place of a trade union official.

The government is in fact declaring war against the trade unions, starting with the rail and education trade unions.

The Tories and the state apparatus no doubt intend to impose massive fines on the RMT and other rail unions in the event that the unions do their duty and take action on the life and death issue of jobs and wages for workers.

This is now the time for the TUC trade unions to get off their knees and start fighting. There must be an immediate meeting of the General Council of the TUC to back up the right of the RMT to take strike action as decided by their membership in a legal ballot.

The first thing that the TUC must do, is that its General Council must decide on a new leader to fully back the rail trade unions.

It must then call a general strike to give the RMT and the rail unions the backing that they are entitled to on the vital issue of wage rates, at a time of galloping inflation.

The TUC must be prepared to bring the government down and bring in a workers government that will nationalise the banks and the major industries and bring in a socialist planned economy. This is the only way forward!