RMT Strike in Britain: Victory to the rail workers

By Socialist Alternative, our sister organisation in England, Wales and Scotland

The historic national strike action taking place this June is testament to the bravery and determination of rail workers everywhere. 

RMT voted 9:1 on a 71% turnout for action against the outrageous plan to slash 2,500 jobs at Network Rail, alongside further attacks on pay and conditions across 15 different train operators. This will be the largest strike of transport workers in 30 years over three days: 21, 23 and 25 June.

With a determined lead from the national leadership and branches, it will have the potential to inspire other workers facing pay freezes or pitiful pay rises to organise and take action. 

Strike shows power of unions

These initial three days of action can bring the country to a standstill. A week on from a major national trade union demonstration, it showcases the immense potential power of the trade union movement.

But as well as building for the maximum unity and strength on the first days of action, it’s also important to begin democratic discussions throughout the union about the potential need to escalate the action and build the pressure on the bosses. 

Meanwhile, the whole of the union movement needs to get behind this strike. Where appropriate, strike days should be coordinated across unions to maximise disruption and force the government and the bosses onto the back foot.

Workers will take inspiration from this fighting example, and can use it to demand action from their own union leaderships. 

Tory anti-union laws

The terrified Tories are planning new laws to legally require that a minimum level of staffing is maintained during a strike – in other words potentially banning significant proportions of those who have voted to strike from actually doing so. 

Unite leader Sharon Graham has attacked these threats. Strong words need to be turned into action to resist any attempts at imposing or using new anti-union laws. The Tories will be keen to attack the RMT, CWU and Unite, among others.

How to fight back?

The entire trade union movement should rally with mass demonstrations, solidarity pickets and if necessary widespread industrial action to defend any group of workers singled out by the government.

The first step is for the RMT and CWU, together with Unite and any other unions taking action nationally or locally, to coordinate action for maximum effect based on discussion at the base of the unions as well as the tops.

Socialist Alternative says:
  • Victory to the RMT!
  • Prepare now to step up the action, with further days of action, longer strikes and coordination with other striking workers to maximise disruption for the bosses
  • For joined up action across unions and sectors to demand the end to all anti-trade union laws. Unions nationally should be prepared to defy them when necessary
  • Re-nationalise the railways under democratic workers’ control and management, together with the wider transport sector to enable a sustainable public plan of people and goods. 
  • For a new left party of struggle that supports strikes and gives strikers a political organisation.
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