RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch joined the picket line at London’s Euston Station yesterday morning after pay talks with the Tories collapsed on Monday.
Earlier, Network Rail CEO Andrew Haines said he would be happy to give members a pay rise above 3%, but only if he got an agreement from the RMT on automation – meaning mass sackings.
Lynch said the union was in a position to ‘accommodate and negotiate change’ but first, there needs to be an absolute guarantee that workers will not face compulsory redundancies.
However Labour, under the leadership of Keir Starmer, is not supporting the RMT’s strike action. Labour MPs have been told that they must not take their place on RMT picket lines, and that they must stand with the ‘Public’. The ‘Public’ however stands with the RMT and wants both job security and wage rises that keep pace with inflation, as well as dumping Starmer!
It is believed that Starmer will push for disciplinary action to be taken against Labour MPs who attend RMT picket lines. The working class is cheering on the RMT, understanding that its victory will be theirs and their children’s. In fact, scabbing on the RMT strike action will split the Labour Party. Starmer must be sacked and replaced!
PM Boris Johnson is expected today to urge a ‘sensible compromise’ on pay and will say ‘too high demands’ on wages will make it hard to halt rising inflation.
His war in the Ukraine has driven inflation sky high. Nevertheless, Johnson says that workers must grin and bear extreme poverty for themselves and their children – in order to weaken Russia and strengthen imperialism.
The RMT has accused the government of preventing employers from freely negotiating on pay.
Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, has responded that it would ‘undermine’ the situation if ministers got involved in talks, saying: ‘It’s the job of the employers to meet with the unions’.
The RMT union is correctly asking for a pay rise of at least 7% to offset the rising cost of living. The employers have offered a maximum of 3% – on condition the RMT accepts job cuts and big changes to working practices and safety measures.
Meanwhile, The Bank of England has forecast that inflation is set to hit 11% in the autumn, then 15%, with prices rising at the fastest rate for 40 years.
The RMT’s Lynch said the ‘dead hand’ of the government had been actively preventing employers and the union from reaching a settlement. Lynch added that industrial action would run ‘as long as it needs to’, saying the strikes could last months if a deal is not reached.
The RMT stated yesterday: ‘It is clear that the Tory government, after slashing £4bn of funding from National Rail and Transport for London (TfL), has now actively prevented a settlement to this dispute.
‘The rail companies have now proposed pay rates that are massively under the relevant rates of inflation, coming on top of the pay freezes of the past few years.
‘At the behest of the government, companies are also seeking to implement thousands of job cuts and have failed to give any guarantee against compulsory redundancies.
‘As a result of this transport austerity, the employing companies have taken decisions to:
‘Attack the Railway Pension Scheme and the TfL scheme, diluting benefits, making staff work longer and making them poorer in retirement, while paying increased contributions.
‘Cut thousands of jobs across the rail network while not giving a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.
‘Cutting safety inspections on the infrastructure by 50% in order to facilitate mass redundancies.
‘Attack terms, conditions and working practices in a form of internal fire and re-hire, including lowering existing salaries and increasing the working week.’
It is clear that the RMT is fighting for every worker in the country against a return to the nightmare conditions of the 1930s.
The working class must now insist that certain things must be done. Labour MPs must sack Starmer and align the Labour Party 100% with the struggle of the RMT. Every Labour MP must be on the RMT picket lines and fight 100% for the victory of the RMT. Those that won’t must be sacked!
The TUC must make that victory certain by immediately calling a general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers’ government and a socialist planned economy. This is the only way forward!