By Sam Ord
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2812

Don’t lose rail strike energy

Action by 40,000 workers won mass support. It would be a mistake to lose that momentum now
Issue 2812
Big enthusiastic crowd with red RMT flags, GMB white, orange and black placards and many others supporting the rail strikes

Enthusiasm for the rail strikes on the London rally (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Talks between the RMT union and rail bosses resumed last week. The negotiations followed three days of strikes that saw 40,000 workers at Network Rail and 13 train operating companies paralyse the rail network. But despite overwhelming public support and a mood among workers to continue fighting, the RMT union had not announced any new strike dates by the beginning of this week.

Anti-union laws insist the RMT must give two weeks’ notice of action. That means there is a danger that momentum will be lost and the fight will become harder to win.

RMT senior assistant general secretary Eddie Dempsey said, “I think we’ve made a pretty emphatic point with the strike action we put on. We don’t take these steps lightly. We’re in no rush to run into the boardroom and name further action.”

But naming, and implementing, strikes would put pressure on the talks.What victory would look like is also contested within the union. Some workers are calling for an above inflation pay rise and an end to the threat of all redundancies, whether voluntary or compulsory.But union leaders have indicated their bottom line is no compulsory redundancies, and a 7 percent pay deal.

This leaves the door open for voluntary redundancies. It also means that workers will take home a new deal that falls far short of the current 11.7 percent rate of inflation. As RMT members attend the union’s annual general meeting in Birmingham this week should push for more dates and longer action.

The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham from 28 July is just one example of events that could be hit by a shutdown.

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