We’re running out of trade unions to start new strikes

Trade unions at the people's assembly march
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As the UK is gripped by the Tory-induced cost of living crisis, another trade union has announced a series of strikes. This begs the question: are there any workers left who aren’t taking industrial action?

A winter of severe discontent… for the Tories

In recent days, we’ve had announcements from the Royal College of Nurses (RCN), the University and College Union (UCU), London Unite bus drivers and Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union that their members will strike. The PCS union action must be particularly galling for the Tories, as government civil servants will be walking out.

Other unions are still balloting their members – including teachers, bus drivers elsewhere in the country via Unite, and Unison’s NHS division. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is currently running a consultative ballot for its members. Meanwhile, strikes from the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) and National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) continue.

And now, a rail union has announced further strikes, too.

Trade unions: another walk out

The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) has said its train drivers will be striking across the UK. It said in a statement that:

ASLEF members at 12 companies – Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Railway; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; London North Eastern Railway; London Overground; Northern Trains; Southeastern; Transpennine Express, and West Midlands Trains – will strike on 26 November.

As with many of the strikes, ASLEF members will walk out again over pay. Train operators are giving workers a real-terms pay cut due to spiralling inflation and companies’ greed. The union previously held strikes on days across the year. However, many of the train companies have refused to budge. So, the strikes will continue.

Read on...

When’s the general strike, guys?

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said:

We regret that passengers will be inconvenienced for another day. We don’t want to be taking this action. Withdrawing our labour is always a last resort for a trade union.

We have come to the table, as we always will, in good faith but while the industry continues to make no offer… we have no choice but to take strike action again.

They want drivers to take a real terms pay cut. With inflation now well into double figures, train drivers who kept Britain moving through the pandemic are now being expected to work just as hard this year as last year but for less. Most of these drivers have not had an increase in salary since 2019.

We want the companies – which are making huge profits – to make a proper pay offer so that our members can keep up with the cost of living.

All of this begs the question: if so many unions are striking, why are they not taking coordinated action? That is, why aren’t unions organising a general strike? Hopefully they are, and we just don’t know it yet – coordinated union action would send the strongest message to the Tory Party that workers won’t tolerate their toxic governance any longer.

Featured image via the Guardian – YouTube

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  • Show Comments
    1. Most trade unions in the UK, as in most countries, are not on the side of the workers they are paid to represent but rather act as a wages police for employers, damping down workers’ anger and ensuring socialism does not take root. These are some of the reasons for the lack of enthusiasm for unions amongst the working class.

      As for ‘running out of unions to start new strikes’: “According to 2021 UK official statistics, trade union membership has declined to 6.4 million in 2021. The proportion of UK employees who were trade union members fell to 23.1% in 2021 down from 23.7% in 2020. This represents the lowest union membership rate on record among UK employees for which we have comparable data (since 1995).”

      So, if every union member came out on strike, that would mean about 77% of the workforce still in post.

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