Socialist Worker

Train workers fight bosses’ attempt to make them pay for the pandemic

by Sam Ord
Issue No. 2760

Action is taking place against ScotRail

Action is taking place against ScotRail (Pic: Wikicommons/ Geof Sheppard)


Rail workers across Britain are fighting back against corporate greed by striking in battles over pay and conditions.

On the Tyne and Wear Metro in north east England, a coordinated joint union strike is set to begin next week.

RMT and Unite union members will strike for seven consecutive days from 28 June to 4 July. The action is in response to train manufacturer Stadler’s imposed wage freeze.

Workers will also refuse to work overtime from 5 July.

In October last year Stadler won a £300 million contract to build new trains and to rebuild the Gosforth depot in Newcastle.

Stadler will also maintain the Nexus Tyne and Wear trains for the next 35 years.

The firm is trying to force through a pay freeze, despite the company recording profit growth of eight percent in 2020

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said, “It’s frankly disgraceful that this wealthy global company should be trying to impose a pay freeze on staff who have worked throughout the pandemic to keep the North East moving.

“RMT stands shoulder to shoulder with our Unite colleagues in this fight for pay justice.”

Eight days of strikes have also been announced by the RMT on East Midlands Railway each Sunday from 27 June.

Striking

Senior conductors are striking over the company issuing inferior contracts to some train guards.

Up to 200 train managers also voted overwhelmingly for action in a parallel dispute.

And ticket examiners and conductors on ScotRail are continuing industrial action in two disputes over pay.

Workers have been striking on Sundays since March, leading to most ScotRail trains being cancelled on strike days.

The RMT warned of a “summer of disruption” last month if the dispute wasn’t resolved.

Workers have accused the operating company and ScotRail owner Abellio of breaching its own dignity and respect policies.

ScotRail then provocatively tweeted, seeking to turn football fans against the rail workers. The RMT warn this could lead to violence directed towards workers.

Elsewhere in Scotland, action is also continuing on the Caledonian Sleeper.

The RMT is demanding that the Scottish government reveal how much ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper have been handed under their Covid-19 Emergency Measures Agreements (EMAs).

In the initial EMA, which covered the March to September 2020, the operators were able to receive management and performance fees.

These can be worth up to 2 percent of the pre-pandemic franchise cost base.

But the Scottish government has backtracked from its commitment to publish this information in April 2021.

The RMT estimates that private company Abellio could have made in excess of £8 million during the initial EMA.

Serco—which operates the Caledonian Sleeper—could have pocketed rover £600,000

The wave of resistance by union members is important to resist bosses’ attempts to mtake workers pay for the pandemic.

Sign the ScotRail solidarity petition at bit.ly/ScotRailStrike

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