A small section of rail and London Underground workers in the RMT union joined the teacher’s strike march on 1 February (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Rail workers on the London Underground and 14 train operating companies were gearing up for strikes this week. But there are warning signs as RMT union leaders suspended Network Rail strikes planned for Wednesday and Thursday to put a terrible offer out to ballot. 

The proposed deal would see workers’ pay rise by £1,750 or 5 percent for the period 1 January to 30 September 2022. There would then be an additional 4 percent increase covering 1 October 2022 to 31 December 2023. The RMT says that for most workers, it means a 10.3 percent rise in basic earnings over two years. 

But a Network Rail RMT member told Socialist Worker, “I think it’s a 9.2 percent increase, made up of 5 percent or an increase of £1,750 for nine months of 2022. Then 4 percent on top for three months of 2022 and the rest of 2023. That 1.1 percent difference—9.2 percent versus 10.3 percent—is from the extra four months of the increase. So it’s more like a bonus.

“The rail deal is confusing on purpose I think to make people think we’re getting a double-digit pay rise. Inflation is likely to be around 20 percent for both of those years taken together.” Bosses also want ­workers to accept a raft of attacks disguised as “Modernising Maintenance”. This could mean 30 percent more night and weekend working and the removal of 1,950 front line posts.

Network Rail bosses say they will not make any compulsory redundancies, but their guarantee is only until 2025. Walkouts for the 14 train operating companies were still set for Thursday and Saturday this week, and 30 March and 1 April. The government’s negotiating body the Rail Delivery Group invited the RMT to talk. But only on the condition that the strikes on Thursday and Saturday were suspended.

The RMT was right to refuse this. But an RMT member on Greater Anglia told Socialist Worker, “I think we need more strikes, they can’t be allowed to ignore us. Some people will worry about money but we need to think about the future. The talks are part of the strategy but we know that we need more and we can’t accept what is on offer now. We have to ask how we are going to win.”

London Underground workers were also building for big picket lines this week as they planned to strike for 24 hours on Wednesday. Members of the Aslef and RMT unions are fighting for fair pay and to protect jobs, pensions and safety.

It is the first strike by RMT members since last year when they held six 24-hour strikes over pay and job and pensions cuts. The lack of any recent action by RMT leaders has allowed Transport for London managers to begin cutting up to 600 jobs—mostly from safety-critical roles.

Reject Welsh NEU offer

Teachers across England planned to strike on Wednesday and Thursday this week. The action comes at a crucial juncture. The NEU’s national executive voted last Friday to call off strikes in Wales after a new offer. The retreat was a mistake. 

The offer is an extra 1.5 percent consolidated—integrated into basic pay this school year—and then an extra 5 percent for the next school year. This is on top of the 5 percent already paid this year. It means an 11.8 percent, below-inflation, rise for most teachers across two school years and a one-off payment on top. 

Socialist Workers Party members on the executive argued against calling off the strikes. The NEU is putting the offer to members in Wales, with no recommendation. They should reject it—and teachers everywhere should push to escalate. 

Paul McGarr

Original post


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