The RMT on Strike

The RMT are striking for three days this month (Photo: RMT)

Rail workers have taken to picket lines up and down the country as the first of three days of strike action.

Workers of the RMT union balloted for strike action last month, and the union has selected 21, 23 and 25 June as the days of action.

Union members are out on strike following 2–3 years without a pay rise, despite the cost of living crisis.

The unions are also out to protect their jobs from cuts, and the RMT has also claimed the government has refused to meet and discuss the wants of the union.

This government swiftly showed that they will have a zero tolerance on future strike action, with Transport Minister Grant Shapps outlining that plans to crack down on ‘militant’ union action will come into place in the future.

The union has been forced to see politicians and mainstream media outlets push untrue facts to promote a narrative which isn’t there.

The most obvious line being complaints at how much train drivers earn and people questioning ‘why are they on strike?’

This has been quashed by the RMT, mainly because the vast majority of members out on strike aren’t train drivers.

In fact, those on strike have pretty much every profession but driving trains. Yet this doesn’t fit a rather comfy and lazy narrative of many on the right.

Striking for job security and better pay is pretty much the last bastion of workers rights. This government doesn’t support this strike action, because no government supports strike action.

A union going on strike is the last resort, and it means that the government has either failed to open dialogue with the union or has talked to the union and failed to come to a reasonable agreement.

The build up to the strike days have been filled with the rhetoric of trying to turn the public against those on the picket lines.

Judging from the reaction on social media, this may have worked.

The Labour Party, who are historically the party of the working class and who showed support for striking workers during industrial disputes of the past, has come under fire for a lack of support.

Speculation in the days leading up to the first day of action was that Keir Starmer and the party had called on shadow cabinet members to not stand out on picket lines with striking workers.

When the picketing began, this demand had seemingly fallen on deaf ears as several front bench Labour MP’s stood shoulder to shoulder with workers on the picket line.

Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is a shadow of those that have gone before it, and the move to tell shadow cabinet members not to stand with workers on the picket line is telling.

It also highlights just how divided the party is, something else which has been noted by people on both sides of the political spectrum.

The leader of the Labour Party may not be spotted on an RMT picket line anytime soon, but one man who has been seen is Arthur Scargill.

Leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) during the infamous coal miners’ strike of 1984–85, Scargill epitomised the importance of working class solidarity.

In fact, the similarities between this trade dispute and the NUM walkout of 84–85 are eerily familiar.

The main one of these being the media coverage, and a clear agenda of trying to demonise the striking workers by pointing out the disruption caused.

Of course the strikes have and will cause disruptions, because that’s what strikes do.

The RMT have taken to picket lines as a last resort after seeing the government were not willing to discuss the increase in pay and job security they deserve.

These three days of action will likely not be the last for the RMT this year, and with unions in other sectors planning ballots for strike action, the summer could be one filled with

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Patrick Hollis

Patrick Hollis

I am a journalist with an honours degree from Coventry University. I’m a published author and journalist with several years experience