An RMT picket line

The chair of the Green Party Trade Union Group has  called on party members to show their solidarity and support for the RMT trade union. RMT – which represents workers on the railways – is set to take industrial action at the end of June. Around 50,000 rail workers will be striking on June 21, 23 and 25 in a dispute over jobs, pay and conditions. The dispute will be the largest on the railways for over thirty years.

The RMT is demanding a pay rise that matches or exceeds inflation, guarantees against compulsory redundancies, and the retention of key roles in UK rail stations. In April the RPI measure of inflation reached 11.1%.

The government has responded by proposing new restrictions on lawful industrial action, including ‘minimum service requirements’ stipulating that a proportion of rail workers must work through strike action and cross picket lines. The government has also proposed enabling employers to hire agency workers to break strikes – a practice that is currently unlawful. Both these attempts to utilise scab labour have been widely condemned by the trade union movement.

Writing to members of the Green Party Trade Union Group, the group’s Chair Matthew Hull called on the Government to “broker a fair settlement in line with the union’s demands”. Hull said,

Rail workers kept the country moving through the pandemic, helping other key workers get to their workplaces at great risk to life and health. Now rail employers are threatening thousands of jobs and refusing a real pay rise to match inflation.

The government has the power to end this dispute by brokering a fair settlement that guarantees job security and no loss of earnings. Shamefully, Boris Johnson and his cabinet are stoking division and trying hard to turn workers against each other.

Rail workers and passengers want the same thing – a good, affordable rail network under public ownership that works for all of us and pays its staff well. The real obstacle to that is the Government, which prefers disruption to real progress.

We call on the Government to sit down with the RMT and negotiate a fair settlement that delivers a real pay rise, job security and safe conditions for rail workers in line with the union’s demands.

The Green Party Trade Union Group has published a resource pack for party members, including a briefing on the dispute and resources for local Green Parties to use in their campaigns.

Calling the rail workers’ strike a “defining moment” for workers’ rights and the future of UK rail, Hull continued,

This is a defining moment for the future of rail and the future of workers’ rights in the UK. The Government is trying to pull apart our rail network at the joints. Boris Johnson wants to use this dispute as a pretext to crack down on workers’ democratic right to strike.

It has never been more important for Greens to unite behind workers and help them win this strike. We hope to see lots of Greens on the picket line supporting striking workers next week.”

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