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6 December 2017

Strikers rally in Liverpool

Roger Bannister

Workers on strike in three separate disputes held a joint rally in Liverpool city centre on Monday 4 December, bringing together members of four different trade unions.

RMT members employed by Merseyrail, in a protracted strike to retain the guards on the local trains, joined PCS members in dispute about health and safety for DVLS staff with the proposed changes to the Driving Test, and Unite and GMB members employed by the Arriva bus company, who are striking for a decent pay award.

The rally, characterised by an optimism based on determination, was addressed by speakers from each affected union explaining the details of their respective disputes and emphasising the need for broader solidarity across all trade unions.

Tony Mulhearn, one of the Liverpool councillors who won additional finances for Liverpool in the 1980s by refusing to implement cuts, and supporting what was at that time an 'illegal' deficit budget, was also invited to address the strikers.

It is now important that the national union leaderships take note of the success of this local initiative and discuss future joint action, joint protests and lobbying activities.

On 7 December a lobby of the local Transport Committee, convened by the Labour Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, has been called to support the case of the Merseyrail guards.

Throughout his election campaign in April and May, Rotheram clumsily sidestepped the issue of retaining the guards on the Merseyrail network, but now he is in power, with responsibility for public transport in the City Region, the chickens have come home to roost!

The leaders of the TUC and most of the main trade unions appear to be responding to the latest round of Tory anti-trade union legislation by assuming that the game is up as far as strikes are concerned. The mood of Merseyside's strikers shows that the opposite is the case.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 6 December 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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