Another solid strike today saw trade union supporters joining RMT picket lines – and Labour MP Sam Tarry sacked from the Shadow Cabinet for attending one.
The rail workers are fighting for all of us. A strike wave is building across the country as inflation hits a 40-year high. The number of food banks run by the Trussell Trust has increased twenty-fold since 2008. The Tories say people in poverty should get a job – but most people on low incomes now live in families where someone is in work. A million people are on zero-hours contracts.
It’s a different story for Network Rail boss Andre Haines, paid £600,000 a year, and for train operators who get a government handout of £124 million a year in management fees. People can’t afford to buy food, but Tesco expects to make at least £2 billion profits in 2022-23 and boss Phil Clarke is on £1.1 million. The Financial Times published an article last Saturday reviewing top-price Burgundies at up to £8,580 a bottle. The money for pay rises is there – in the pockets of fat cat companies and the rich.
Tory leadership rivals Sunak and Truss have no solutions to the cost of living crisis. They want to attack workers’ rights even further. This morning the Mirror front page headline quoted RMT chief Mick Lynch: ‘It’s a Tory war on workers… We must fight’. Inside pages continued the theme, with an article headed ‘Extremist Tories are holding workers to ransom’. The Mirror is a commercial operation – they are publishing these articles now because strikes are popular.
That was reflected at picket lines today, where RMT members were joined by a wide range of supporters. At Edinburgh’s Waverley station, members of Edinburgh Anti-Raids, Living Rent, UCU, Unison and Unite showed their support. UCU and Unite members were also at King’s Cross in London. A BBC journalist in Leicester reported that passengers there were frustrated at being unable to travel, but ‘not one person condemned the strike’.
— RMT (@RMTunion) July 27, 2022
But one place where that message isn’t getting through is the Labour leadership. Shadow Cabinet member Sam Tarry has been sacked for attending a picket line. Rail union TSSA commented:
We expect attacks from the Tories, we don’t expect attacks from our own Party. As a Labour-affiliated union, our union is ashamed of the actions of the Labour Party leadership and the anti-worker anti-union message it is sending out
Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham commented, ‘sacking Sam Tarry for supporting working people on strike, against cuts to their jobs and pay, is another insult to the trade union movement.’ It was reported on Wednesday evening that Tarry had taken phone calls from as many as seven union general secretaries, all ‘absolutely fuming’ about his sacking.
Starmer is a disaster as Labour leader, careful to show he’s a ‘safe pair of hands’ for British capitalism. That’s even more important to him than winning elections, let alone supporting working people. Meanwhile, as our strike round-up on Monday showed, workers around the country aren’t waiting for Labour but are taking action themselves.
Picket line pictures from the strike today
Newton Heath picket line, Manchester