Tuesday 6 December 2022

The Tory Railway Pay Offer Stunt

You can always rely on the BBC to shred its partial commitment to impartial coverage where trade union disputes are concerned. Reporting on the RMT's decision to extend its strike days to include Christmas Eve to 27th December, it has dredged up any old random to criticise rail workers for ruining Christmas. As someone who's been very inconvenienced by the strikes for work and trying to sort a house move, I don't have any sympathy for this pleading. Especially when public support for the rail strikes is more popular than the government presiding over them. But the framing really sticks in the craw, as are the persistent lies allowed to pass without challenge or scrutiny by the media, save the tiny handful of left wing columnists.

This ramping up of action is in reply to the train companies' derisory "offer" to end the strikes. Having been allowed by the Transport Secretary to make a proposal, it would amount to a four per cent pay increase this year with another four per cent in 2024 (please note mathematically challenged journos, this is not the same as an eight per cent offer). In return for this real terms pay cut, the RMT would have to agree to thousands of job losses, which includes the closure of all ticket offices, the removal of guards from trains, and leaving staff at the mercy of company flexi scheduling. Race to the bottom doesn't quite cover it: these are proposals for completely wrecking the rail service by making it inaccessible to millions of people. But what does the Rail Delivery Group care as long as the government subsidy keeps rolling in?

The RMT rejected it out of hand, and have rightly responded to this insult by escalating action. Good. Because this was not remotely a serious offer. With the government's connivance, it was a Rail Delivery Group media stunt. Knowing only the liberal press like The Graun would report it with any even handedness or detail, the Tories and the companies are supposing the existence of an offer makes them look reasonable and rail workers militant hold outs. In an uncharacteristic moment of honesty in the Summer, then transport secretary Grant Shapps declared his intention was to break the strike. He's now over at Business, but the aim remains the same.

The Tories are not interested in making a settlement and think toughing it out will see public patience wear thin and strikers' resolve weaken. So far, there's no sign of either. The problem they have is they're beset from multiple sides by industrial action. The post, FE and HE workers, nurses, ambulance crews, and who knows who else are going to go out in the new year, makes them exceedingly vulnerable. Margaret Thatcher was never stupid enough to take on multiple groups of workers at once. They're desperate to defeat the RMT, perhaps the most militant and best organised union in the country, as a means of deterring other unions. To the credit of Mick Lynch and the RMT's leadership, they know what the Tories' game is. If they lose, it will be a blow to rising militancy. But if the union sees off the Tory attacks, it's not just rail workers who win. We all do.

Image Credit


Anonymous said...

Who knows who else - well hopefully 450,000 civil servants once PCS have finished reballoting the 700ish HMRC members who forgot to vote...

Robert Dyson said...

I am reminded of: "When you owe the bank a million, the bank owns you. When you owe the bank several billion, you own the bank."
There are now too many different strikes in different areas to be glossed over as some selfish minority holding 'hard working' people to ransom because others will certainly recognise some of the strikers as hard working people. In addition many people not in a union are feeling the pinch, feeling they were conned on Brexit by the Tory gang, noting the Tory Mone £millions after lobbying ‘friends’ in government for PPE some of which was rubbish. Even I, as a long retired pensioner, who was thrifty and built up savings so as not to put any extra burden on the state now find they are being inflated away. Should I have chest pains and the ambulance does not turn up in time, my last breath will be a curse on this Tory government, a gang of charlatans.
I think the strikers now own the narrative with the help of the articulate Mick Lynch.

Old Trot said...

I see that in a TV interview today the Trilateral Commission's creature, , ex DPP, Starmer , when asked if the RMT is right to reject the current 'offer' (ie, a huge real terms pay cut plus massive redundancies and unsafe one man-operated trains) stammers awkwardly and pompously that he "isn't going to get into which side is right, which side is wrong" ! No wonder , as reported in The Guardian, those big capitalist dodgy donors are apparently now switching their bribes to NuLabour again . The next Labour government will simply be A Tory Government Mk 2 make no mistake. Time for even the most deluded socialist to leave. The self-serving, misnamed, 'Socialist Campaign Group' of MPs will of course never leave (but may well be booted out anyway before the next Election).