It's time the Government - and the media - got behind our transport workers

14 February 2024, 14:38

It's time to stop pitting railway workers against the travelling public, writes Kate Osborne MP
It's time to stop pitting railway workers against the travelling public, writes Kate Osborne MP. Picture: Alamy

By Kate Osborne MP

Train drivers haven't had a pay increase since 2019 - whilst at the same time the cost of living has spiralled out of control from housing costs to food to energy bills.

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RMT, ASLEF and TSSA members have all taken strike action to stand up for their rights – but they are also standing up for commuters – demanding a safe, well-staffed railway where people are put before profit.

This Government has failed to deal with the cost of living crisis, and of course they are playing politics with these disputes, with draconian measures attacking workers' right to strike.

We should be tackling the false narratives that are attempts to pit railway workers against the travelling public, by stating these workers are overpaid.

Workers across the country have had real terms pay cuts for decades and are now facing a cost of living crisis, food poverty and energy bill rises – all political choices of this Government.

Workers have been left with no choice but to stand up for what they deserve and frankly need to survive and no one takes strike action lightly.

Instead of inflaming the situation with anti worker rhetoric the government should start dealing with the reality of why more workers are taking industrial action: low wages, fuel and food poverty and cuts to essential public services.

Instead of helping the government along with clickbait headlines attacking workers, the main stream media should be highlighting the erosion of our railway service, the chaos and profit making private rail companies, sky high ticket prices and the reality for train drivers and railway staff.

Fourteen years of consecutive Conservative Governments have presided over a managed decline of our country, our public services, our railways, our NHS, our schools, economy - all as a direct result of political choices that have consistently put profit over people.

As a lifelong trade unionist, I will always stand on the side of workers in their struggle. Our railway workers and all public sector workers deserve a pay rise.

It was disappointing to see so many main stream media outlets use pictures that belonged to me with workers without my permission to attack train drivers - some outlets have paid me for this unauthorised use and LBC have given me this right of reply in recompense. The money I received I have donated to ASLEF’s strike fund.

I will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who stand up and demand better from this awful Tory Government and I look forward to the upcoming general election so we can kick them out of Government and an incoming Labour Government can begin to sort out the mess 14 years of Tory rule has made of our country.