‘I would agree with a general strike’ says RMT’s Dempsey!

RMT pickets at London Bridge Station yesterday morning were joined by rail workers from ASLEF and TSSA

THE RMT Deputy General Secretary Eddie Dempsey made the call for a general strike when he spoke out on the picket line at Euston Station in central London yesterday morning.

Dempsey said: ‘We’ll keep taking action until we get a result

‘This is the fourth day of strike action and there will be four more days of strike action.

‘We’re getting nowhere in negotiations so we’ll keep taking action until we get a result.

‘I would agree with a general strike. I’m in favour of a planned economy – nationalise everything.’

In addition to the members of the RMT, members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) at Avanti West Coast, which operates some trains to Birmingham, were also on strike.

RMT member James Lynch said: ‘We’re here today to fight for our futures.

‘We are not being valued as workers. This is when we are contributing to provide a service to the country.

‘Jobs are under threat while workers are suffering the worst cost of living crisis in modern times. We have to change that and fight for our future.

‘I’m for co-ordinated strike action to bring down the Tories.

‘We need a workers government.’

Euston RMT Health and Safety rep Paul Chadwick added: ‘You should look at the direct report at pay increases for Network Rail directors, especially the CEO who has had a pay increase of 6.3% – an increase of £60,000 of public money.

‘Yet we’re told RMT members can’t get an increase because there’s no public money available. It’s typical double standards.

‘We need to renationalise the railway, it’s as simple as that.

‘I agree with a general strike to go forward to a workers government and a planned economy.’

Labour’s shadow transport minister defied orders from party leader Sir Keir Starmer and joined striking rail workers on the picket line.

Sam Tarry told the BBC he was ‘backing transport workers who are on strike’ and ‘the travelling public’.

He added that ‘any Labour MP, any Labour member, will have absolute solidarity with striking workers’.

There were powerful picket lines outside railway stations all over the country as more than 40,000 RMT members carried out their fourth day of strike action in a month yesterday.

Members of the RMT union working at Network Rail and 14 train operating companies were striking for a pay rise and in defence of jobs, conditions, pensions and health and safety.

RMT members at Waterloo Station in central London were joined by a delegation from the NEU teachers’ union.

RMT Health & Safety rep Shaun told News Line: ‘The issue of the cost of living is countrywide, and especially affects working class people.

‘We are attempting to come out of the pandemic, where our members worked all through.

‘Other unions are taking note of what the RMT are doing and following suit. We’re in the middle of a cost of living crisis. Every worker should be able to live to a decent standard and have a good quality of life.

‘The Tories have ripped the heart out of this country.

‘Keir Starmer told MPs not to support our picket lines last month, but some of them turned up and supported us anyway. I think we should force an election.’

Errol Wilson, a guard and RMT member, said: ‘I believe in improving the rail system, but not at this cost to us. They’re wanting to make huge numbers of redundancies.

‘They should re-nationalise the railways and cut out the middle men, all these train operating companies who keep taking money out of the system for themselves which should be used to improve the service and pay people properly. It’s a service not a money-making scheme for a few people.’

Ola,  a leading member of the RMT branch, told News Line: ‘The strike is well supported by our members. Also other unions support us, for example the NEU are here with their banner.

‘We’ve been offered 4%, then another 4% next year, but that depends on us making sacrifices that we’re not prepared to make, affecting safety and involving compulsory redundancies.

‘There are 40,000 rail workers on strike today, ASLEF are out on Saturday,  and it’s building up.

‘The whole trade union movement should come out in support of the RMT, as the cost of living crisis affects everyone.’

Another picket, Alex said: ‘If the government was serious about resolving this they would make a decent offer.

‘They come out with statements like “making the unions see sense” and they lied about Mick Lynch, saying he walked out of a meeting when he didn’t. They are just lying all the time.’

On the picket line at Liverpool Street Station in east London, Jamie Wallace, Supervisor and RMT member, said: ‘For me, our strike is about equality and fairness because workers are working very hard to achieve what they want but they are not getting the recognition and pay from this government that they deserve.

‘The government should listen to our members and other sections of workers want, if they don’t then there will be more strikes not just by RMT but other workers too, because they deserve proper recognition and pay for their work.

‘I think there should be a general strike, people are not treated fairly and the only way to get the government to listen is more strikers taking action.’

Wale Agunbiade, RMT Branch Secretary at Liverpool Street Station, said: ‘It’s the same situation as last time we’re striking for the pay and conditions of our members and also to ensure no job losses as Network Rail is threatening job losses.

‘We also have to the cost of living crisis and the rate of pay being offered is well below the rate of inflation but the profits being made by Network Rail are way above inflation.

‘We’ve had lot of support from the public and other organisations and grateful for it.

‘As a personal position, I would one hundred per cent agree with a general strike.’

TSSA members at Avanti West Coast were also on strike and the lively RMT picket at Euston Station was also joined by members of the TSSA union.

RMT picket John said: ‘We’re mainly here to protect our jobs. They say they want modernisation. What they really want is trains without guards.

‘Guards are essential for passenger safety and they check tickets. Passengers need stations with staff in them.

‘The only way forward is the re-nationalisation of the whole of British Rail without compensation.’

On the 20-strong picket line at London Bridge Station, RMT member Dan Girbons told News Line: ‘The RMT is leading the whole working class in a struggle.

‘What we have done with these rail strikes and coming out has been to galvanise people.

‘People are thinking “wait a minute. I do have rubbish terms and conditions and if the boss doesn’t like me he can get rid of me tomorrow”.

‘Overcoming that is the power of collective bargaining. Unfortunately, the rail bosses and the government want to completely crush workers, crush our morale.

‘They don’t want us to have a pay rise. They want to take us back to the Victorian era, passing new anti-union laws.

‘But even if they do pass these laws, what did we workers do in the Victorian era? We built unions.

‘I would love to see a socialist government in charge. This strike is not just about pay. These rail strikes are about keeping our jobs, about protecting the service and our terms and conditions that the people before us fought hard to get.’

At King’s Cross Station in central London, RMT member George said: ‘Strike action is rock solid again and we have more support from the people than ever before.

‘We are determined to continue the strike for as long as it takes.

‘All we’re demanding is that they revise the terms and conditions of our service and give us a real and meaningful pay rise and a respectable workplace.’