Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/564/6829
Say 'no' to the Metro privateers
In the north east, Labour MPs are unhappy. They are bleating that they are having to answer difficult questions from constituents over the privatisation of Tyne and Wear Metro. Norman Hall and Elaine Brunskill report.
The Metro is Britain's last publicly owned railway. It has won awards including for being Britain's most punctual railway. Now invitations for private companies to tender to run the Metro system have gone out.
The Keep the Metro Public (KMP) campaign was initiated by the rail union RMT and then set up under the auspices of the regional TUC. The campaign is growing and local groups are being set up across Tyne and Wear. These groups which, alongside Socialist Party members, include Labour Party members, trade unionists, other left groups and community activists, are holding stalls in town centres, leafleting Metro stations and talking to passengers on the trains. Everywhere we go we get a good response from the public.
At a regional TUC meeting on 24 January, a resolution calling on all unions to follow the example of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) was put forward. The PCS and its members are actively supporting the anti-privatisation campaign, including leafleting Metro stations. Disgracefully the regional TUC voted down this resolution. Even more disgraceful was the role of Unison officials who spoke out against the motion.
Unison is one of the unions whose members will be affected by Metro privatisation. One Unison official has previously argued that the KMP need to "get real" as everyone faces market testing and privatisation these days - the in-house bid is the "only game in town" for the campaign.
Many activists feel that Unison are attempting to sabotage the campaign because of the vociferous opposition Labour MPs and local councillors have felt from members of the public. But campaigners, including the RMT, who have played a pivotal role, will not be derailed from opposing Metro privatisation.
This episode further highlights both the need for a new workers' party and the need for fighting trade unions that will campaign against the privateers.
In The Socialist 28 January 2009:
Slaughter in Gaza
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
Marxist analysis: history
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news
Socialist Party reviews