40,000 Railworkers Strike Today!

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ASLEF members joined the RMT picket line at London Bridge Station during last month’s 3-day strike

BRITAIN is in shutdown again today as 40,000 workers across Network Rail and 14 train operating companies strike in defence of jobs, pay, conditions, pensions and safety.

Showing how rattled it is by the growing strike wave, the Tory government wheeled out leadership contender Liz Truss to issue a new threat to ban strikes within 30 days of her becoming prime minister.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch issued a defiant eve-of-strike message to members, saying: ‘Like you, I was heartened by the magnificent display of solidarity that our members showed during the first wave of action in June.

‘We achieved tremendous support from the public and even the travelling public on the trains. And there has been a wave of reaction in social media and in the mainstream media in support of our campaign for a fair deal for railway workers and that’s echoed around the country with other workers coming in in support, who equally have claims for a square deal.

‘Up until now the companies have not given us any proposals that would suit the needs of the day. In Network Rail they’ve made a proposal that is conditional on accepting a whole raft of changes to working practices, redundancies and work-life balance.

‘And in return they have made a measly pay offer, over three years, that represents only eight per cent, when inflation itself this year is in double digits. That simply is not acceptable and doesn’t match the value they want from the changes that they are going to make.

‘In the train operating companies, we have had no proposals at all. They’ve not made a pay offer, they have merely listed the demands, such as closing every ticket office in Great Britain, amalgamating all of the grades in stations and retail, and amalgamating catering and guard grades, and conductor grades on board …

‘On top of that, the train operators also wish to dilute your pension, make the benefits worse and make you pay more while you’re in employment. We cannot accept that. So we have no choice but to take this further round of industrial action. I know you will support this action. And I know that we will get great support …

‘Other unions are now coming into the dispute and that can only strengthen our hand. So my message to you on the eve of this action is, let’s stick together, let’s make sure we’ve got massive unity in the workplace, on those picket lines and make sure that we deliver a deal for all of our members.’

Truss said within 30 days of becoming Prime Minister, she will introduce minimum service levels on ‘critical national infrastructure’.

Other attacks include raising the minimum threshold for voting for strike action from 40 to 50 per cent, raising the minimum notice period for strike action from two weeks to four weeks, restricting the number of times workers can strike in the six-month period after a ballot, putting an end to tax-free strike pay.

RMT’s Lynch responded: ‘The proposals by Liz Truss amount to the biggest attack on trade union and civil rights since labour unions were legalised in 1871.

‘Truss is proposing to make effective trade unionism illegal in Britain and to rob working people of a key democratic right.

‘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.’
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