On Sunday 4 December, the British rail union RMT was presented with a set of proposals from the Rail Delivery Group of private employers, supposedly to enable progress towards a settlement of our long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.
The proposals were quite simply outrageous. To accept the document in any form would equate to complete surrender. Correctly, the union’s national executive committee rejected it.
The bosses have not stepped back an inch from their original position of shutting down ticket offices, throwing guards off trains, and destroying our precious terms and conditions, which trace their origins as far back as the 1919 railway strike.
The offer to Network Rail members was inadequate, but noticeably included fewer attacks than on our train operating company (TOC) members. However, it still falls below our demands for a significant pay rise. Socialists are clear that the pay rise must match RPI inflation.
At this stage, it appears that the strategy is to split off Network Rail from the TOC members.
Referendum on the offer
The offers have been put out to a referendum of members and, rightly, the union has kept the action on while this takes place, and added extra dates around Christmas.
We need a massive vote to reject this offer, to send a signal to rail bosses and the Tory government that the fight will go on until an acceptable deal is on the table, and the offensive against rail workers is defeated.
While the Department for Transport and rail bosses claim that they need to increase efficiency and get rid of ‘outdated working practices’, it’s another rule for their friends in charge of the West Coast Mainline franchise.
Avanti has succeeded in taking a highly profitable company and running it into the ground, by extracting huge profits but failing to invest in staff recruitment and training. It has resulted in mass cancellations and misery for passengers.
Instead of being immediately stripped of the franchise for their greed and incompetence, Avanti has been rewarded with a £1.3 million bonus payment, and a six-month contract extension. Yet another example of why the railways must be democratically nationalised.
The Tory government and the employers are united in their plans to smash trade union organisation on the railways. Our strike action in December and January is absolutely essential in our campaign to defend jobs, pay and conditions.
The outcome of our dispute will shape the railway jobs of the future. We must fight on!