RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch spoke out defiantly yesterday in response to Tory strike breaking threats to pass laws to ‘ensure minimum staffing levels in the event of a national rail strike’.
Asked on Sky News about Tory plans to bring in new anti-union laws to ensure ‘minimum staffing levels in the event of a strike,’ Lynch responded: ‘The Conservatives have got a habit of threatening civil liberties and the right to resist.
‘It is a civil liberty and a democratic right to withdraw our labour and act independently of the government.
‘They want to cow the trade union movement and they want to preserve big profits through driving down wages and conditions of workers right across our economy.’
Explaining why the RMT is organising the strike, Lynch said: ‘The companies are planning thousands of job cuts which we believe threatens the safety of our railways.
‘They are seeking to dilute and transform our working conditions and working practices and we haven’t had a pay rise now going into the third year.
‘Our members are feeling the cost of living crisis like every other worker in this country and it’s our job to get them a deal from the company which we think that they can afford and which our members deserve, having kept the railway system going over the past two years on the front line delivering those services.’
Lynch added: ‘We want commuters to get a fair deal off the railways. They are also being ripped off as well. Last year the railway companies took out at least £500 million of profit. They are making vast and exorbitant profits. The chief executives and directors of the railway companies are on enormous salaries in this country, hundreds of thousands of pounds, up to half a million pounds a year.
‘So there is enough money in the railway industry to pay for our members to have a decent pay deal and indeed to have a low level of fares.’
On Tuesday night, the RMT announced that railway workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action across Network Rail and the train operating companies, in the biggest endorsement for industrial action by railway workers since privatisation.
71% of those balloted took part in the vote with 89% voting in favour of strike action and only 11% voting against.
RMT leader Lynch said: ‘Today’s overwhelming endorsement by railway workers is a vindication of the union’s approach and sends a clear message that members want a decent pay rise, job security and no compulsory redundancies.
‘Our NEC will now meet to discuss a timetable for strike action from mid-June.’