RMT boss declares rail strikes are 'absolutely' a class struggle

20 June 2022, 17:21

By Seán Hickey

The Assistant General Secretary of the RMT has declared that their upcoming strike action is one of the frontiers of a class struggle, amid the cost of living crisis.

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The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport workers are kicking off a week of the biggest strikes seen in around 30 years tomorrow, following a dispute with rail providers over pay and conditions.

Tom Swarbrick was joined by Eddie Dempsey of the RMT to break down the union's decision.

Read more: Everything you need to know about this week's rail strikes

Read more: Crippling rail strikes will plunge Britain into 'lockdown' as last-minute talks fail

"Your dispute and your anger with middle management in some of these companies will mean that nurses can't get to work, that kids can't get to their exams, people can't get around this week and it's going to be a nightmare for them", Tom told the Assistant General Secretary of the union.

Mr Dempsey accepted that "it is regrettable that people will suffer" but "working-class people are not going to find it hard just on strike days, they're going to find it hard every day of the year."

"We're part of a pushback against a broken economy."

"This is a class struggle, is it?" Tom put to the union boss.

Read more: Summer of discontent: UK's biggest union 'absolutely' willing to arrange 'national strike'

Read more: Summer plans scuppered? Gigs, festivals, sport and GCSEs hit in biggest rail strike since '89

"It absolutely is." Mr Dempsey declared, adding "there has been a huge transfer of wealth from one class – the working class."

Read more: New map shows rail strikes set to cripple network - which lines will be affected?

Tom picked apart the argument, citing the IFS' report that middle earners will be "slightly worse off, if at all" in the cost of living crisis. "Is that part of a class war?"

"Do you think a person earning the median wage in this country can afford to buy a house?" Mr Dempsey countered.

Tom clapped back, asking if the RMT are "going out on strike because the gap between pay and house prices has been decoupled".

Mr Dempsey reiterated the point that rail workers' " pay has been frozen for three years now", and "if we don't keep people up with the rising. cost of living people will become poorer."

"If you listen to the rhetoric coming from Grant Shapps and the government...you will see the government is determined to pour petrol on the fire and have this dispute so they can have a straw man in the unions to attack."

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