By Sam Ord
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2811

‘I want more strikes now,’ says RMT Network Rail worker

Last week’s strikes show rail workers have the power to beat the Tories—now RMT leaders must call more action
Issue 2811
Six RMT union members on a picket line with placards reading cut profits not jobs and services

RMT members mounted picket lines across the country last week (Picture: Mike Killian)

Tens of thousands of rail workers that struck last week are looking ahead to what is next in their fight over pay, jobs and safety.

Their RMT union hadn’t announced any more strike dates as Socialist Worker went to press. Delay risks losing momentum in the fight, and allowing the bosses to recover.

Network Rail worker, Dan from Coventry told Socialist Worker, “I’d like to see more strikes announced. RMT senior assistant general secretary Eddie Dempsey talked to rail engineers online and didn’t give a clear answer. A lot of people in the chat were calling for more strikes and action.”

The bosses have shown that they will not roll over after just three days of walkouts. And the strikes shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations for watered down deals that are far short of what’s required.

In media appearances, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch is focussing increasingly on stopping compulsory redundancies, and suggests he may settle for a 7 percent pay increase.

With inflation now near 12 percent, that would mean accepting a real terms pay cut of nearly 5 percent. A deal avoiding compulsory redundancies may also mean accepting thousands of voluntary ones.

The strength of last week’s action by RMT members—and the support it won—showed the rail workers have the power to win much more. They can demand a pay rise of at least 12 percent, and no redundancies at all. But to win that, they need to demand more, sustained action.

Dan said, “When we have the movement supporting us, we want to keep momentum going. We have our RMT annual general meeting next week—we could call for more strikes there.”

He added that the solidarity for RMT members from other workers and trade unions was also important—even as the Labour Party turned its back on strikers. “Keep coming to solidarity rallies and the picket lines,” he said. “People from the public, not in a trade union, donated £60,000 to the strike fund last week.”

A win for the rail workers would be a blow not just to rail bosses, but every boss that wants to drive down wages, and the Tories who back them. Tory transport secretary Grant Shapps has tried desperately to undermine the strike.

He accused workers of trying to “defend indefensible working practices,” then suggested the strike had no impact. In reality, the Tories are rattled. Victory for the rail strikers would show every other worker that striking can win.

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