Mick Lynch perfectly sums up the damage of rail privatisation on Peston
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch has been getting support from across the political spectrum for his broadcast appearances in recent days. In clashes with Piers Morgan, Kay Burley, Richard Madeley and others, his wry responses, refusal to take absurd questioning at face value and clear grasp of the detail have won him many admirers.
His latest stellar performance came on ITV’s flagship politics show Peston. Presenter Robert Peston didn’t replicate the baffling questions other presenters have opted for, but Lynch once again demonstrated his peerless communication skills in an exchange with the Tory MP Robert Jenrick.
First, Jenrick claimed that “the unions are opposing a degree of that modernisation in the railways desperately”, despite admitting, “I’m not an expert” on the modernisation programme.
Lynch quickly retorted, “But you don’t know that do you? You haven’t examined our position.”
Then, Jenrick went on to say “You’ve lost 20 per cent of the passengers on the railway since Covid”.
Again, Lynch interjected – this time saying, “I haven’t lost them! Covid did!” He added, “We operated the trains all through that period”.
But the main highlight came when Jenrick accused Lynch of “alienating your customers by going on strike and making their lives much more difficult”, suggesting this would lead to passengers not returning to the railway in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic.
Lynch responded first by arguing that what really keeps passengers off the railways is eyewatering fares. He said, “The worst way you can do it is insist that the fares go up by RPI, ripping off the commuters but you won’t give the workers RPI. The fares go up by RPI every year – the Retail Price index. That’s the government regulations.”
He went on to explain how rising fares for passengers and stagnating wages for workers are both linked to the privatisation of the railway. Lynch said, “Last year, profits were made by the train operators – £500m out of that subsidy you gave went to those companies. First Group and Go Ahead, who we’re negotiating with, are both subject to takeovers from private equity companies. They’re going to be worth billions because they know that you’re going to keep siphoning money from the public purse into private sector operators, just as you’re doing in health, education and care.”
You can watch the full exchange here:
“It feels like unions are opposing modernisation”
“You don’t know that, you haven’t been in our position”
— Peston (@itvpeston) June 22, 2022
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