The rail strike is officially on, across three days in June. Naturally, the right-wing backlash against the strike is also on. However, with over 50,000 workers set to walk out, there’s very little the naysayers can do.
As The Canary previously reported, Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union members have voted for the biggest strike in over 25 years. It’s over pay, conditions, rail companies’ threats of compulsory redundancies, and working practices. The backdrop to this is the rail industry cutting services in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Plus, Network Rail is cutting 2,500 safety-critical jobs.
So, the RMT isn’t having it. It balloted its members over strike action. 71% of them took part, and 89% voted for strike action. At the time, transport secretary Grant Shapps threatened to change the law to try and stop the strike. Then, the right-wing media fell into line – attacking the RMT, its members, and the strike. But none of this has deterred the union.
The RMT announced on Tuesday 7 June that the strike would go ahead across three days. These will be 21, 23 and 25 June. As it wrote, the strike is:
due to the inability of the rail employers to come to a negotiated settlement with RMT.
Network Rail and the train operating companies have subjected their staff to multiyear pay freezes and plan to cut thousands of jobs which will make the railways unsafe.
Despite intense talks with the rail bosses, RMT has not been able to secure a pay proposal nor a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.
The right-wing media has once again launched ridiculous attacks on the RMT. For example, the Daily Mail front page on Wednesday 8 June screamed:
HARD-LEFT RAIL UNION STRIKE TO PARALYSE BRITAIN
Of course, the public still seem to back publicly-owned rail. A recent opinion poll showed that 60% of the public support public ownership of the railways. This comes off the back of rail users having already had enough of the privatised network. Transport Focus reported on passenger satisfaction before the pandemic, in January 2019:
Passenger satisfaction with rail services has fallen to a 10-year low. In the latest survey, overall satisfaction with rail services was 79 per cent, the lowest level since 2008, with more than one in five passengers (21 per cent) not satisfied.
While the government has had to take back control of several privately-run rail franchises, it’s unlikely it will ever fully nationalise the network. So, if politicians won’t listen to the public, our best bet to improve services is to support the industrial action of those who work on the railways.
Featured image via the RMT
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