Book review: Mick Lynch – drawing up a balance sheet

The RMT transport workers’ union general secretary Mick Lynch has been a central figure as the working class has re-established its central position in society over the past twenty months or so in the most extensive strike movement for over 30 years. Midlands supporters of The Red Line, the bulletin of Socialist Party members in the RMT, examine a new biography of Mick and assess his role.

Mick Lynch – The Making of a Working-Class Hero is a new biography of the general secretary of our union by the left academic Gregor Gall. Bob Crow – Socialist, Leader, Fighter, published in 2017, was Gall’s previous venture into analysing the RMT. Superficially the two general secretaries are of a type. Both Londoners from working-class backgrounds. Both seen as among the most combative union leaders of their generations. However, this second volume, published a decade after Bob’s untimely death, elaborates some of the important differences between them.

In 2022, with the RMT at the forefront of the strike wave, Mick Lynch was widely declared a ‘working class hero’. RMT was first into battle. This was central to making Mick popular with millions, along with his witty put downs of capitalist journalists and straight talking against the forces of government, big business and the media. More importantly, his appeal to all workers to take action, summed up in his declaration, “the working class is back and we refuse to be meek, we refuse to be humble, and we refuse to be poor anymore”, put the organised working class at the centre of the political stage.

The strike movement was the largest in more than three decades. It was a qualitative change. As Gall points out, in 2018 there was just 273,000 days lost to strikes, the sixth lowest total since records began in 1891. By contrast, the year from June 2022 to May 2023 saw “3.93 million days not worked due to strikes”.

Despite this, however, Mick Lynch has, in essence, taken RMT in a more conservative, less combative direction than was the case under Bob Crow’s leadership.

Bob, however – unlike Mick – never led the union during a national rail strike. This reflects the very different circumstances they faced. In Bob Crow’s time all negotiations took place at Train Operating Company (TOC) level. In contrast, throughout the recent strikes the Rail Delivery Group negotiated for all fourteen TOCs, making national action the only option. This was not coincidence but, as Gall points out, was linked to the Tory government’s determination to take on the rail unions, in particular the RMT. In reality, the recent strikes faced a united front of all the rail industry bosses, backed to the hilt – including financially – by the government. As Gall puts it, the “TOCs were effectively contractually indemnified against strike losses”.

Gall quotes from an RMT press release (18 January 2023) which reported Tory Rail minister Huw Merriman at the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, when asked if the “over a billion” cost of industrial action would have been enough to resolve the strike, responding: “If you look at it [like that]… then absolutely, its actually ending up costing more than would have been the case if it was just settled”. But for the Tories it was not a financial question, they wanted to defeat rail workers, a ‘heavy battalion’ of the working class. Our union’s activists understood the stakes and were determined to fight. It was therefore inevitable that, regardless of the wishes of Mick Lynch, the union entered into national strike action under his leadership. Gall quotes Lynch as saying of the initial offers that led to the rail strikes, “I’d like to do a deal but there’s nothing to be done here. I can’t be called a sell-out because I’ve got nothing to sell. It’s that bad”.

However throughout the strikes Mick Lynch’s priority was to get a deal that he could ‘sell’ to RMT members. To be clear, industrial struggles that end in a complete victory for workers are few and far between. In every strike there is a point at which it is necessary to conclude that – given the current balance of forces – no more can be won, and it is best to bank what has been achieved and prepare for next time. Sometimes it is even necessary to retreat in good order rather than suffer a rout. Nor are we in favour of the maximum possible action for the sake of appearing militant. On the contrary, we agree with the overwhelming majority of trade unionists’ instincts that it is best to take the minimum possible action needed to win.

In that sense any militant trade unionist should seek to ‘do a deal’. Gregor Gall contrasts Lynch’s approach to industrial relations with what he calls Crow’s “membership mobilisation approach”. There can be little doubt that Bob Crow was a vocal advocate of militant strike action and was clearly seen with the RMT as on the militant left, in contrast to Mick Lynch’s position at that time, which was more aligned with the right of the union. However, Bob Crow was also keen to do a deal, as shown when he argued to accept an offer on PPP (the privatisation of London Underground infrastructure) that was rejected by reps before an improved deal, known as “jobs for life”, was accepted.

Gall’s characterisation of the two approaches is over simplified. Nevertheless, it is likely that, presented with a clear strategy to win, and given the opportunity to debate that strategy out via the RMT’s democratic structures at every level, the majority of members would have responded positively, paving the way for more to be won.

RMT members demonstrated a huge willingness to fight, repeatedly overcoming the 2016 anti-trade union laws, leaping over the huge hurdles to legal national strike action at six-monthly intervals, four times in the case of the TOCs strike. Only after eight months of strike action in the case of Network Rail, and eighteen months in the TOCs, were deals eventually accepted by majorities in membership ballots.

The course of the battle

Gall gives a reasonably accurate summary of events in both strikes. He points out that both deals made only limited gains, saying of the agreed Network Rail deal that it “was little different to the one rejected in late January 2023”. Socialist Party members in the RMT argued to reject both deals. There was a small improvement on pay compared to previous offers in the Network Rail deal. But despite misleading headline reports of an uplift of salaries of between 9.2% and 14.4%, in reality it only went halfway to equalling inflation, and so was still a substantial pay cut in real terms.

We also pointed out that acceptance of the offer was termed as ‘a settlement of all aspects of the dispute’ including in respect of ‘Modernising Maintenance’. There was therefore a danger that attacks on working conditions would be imposed by management. Nonetheless, given that the leadership put the deal out to ballot with no recommendation, or proposals on how to fight on, it was no surprise at all that it was accepted, albeit with a substantial 24% voting against.

The end of the Network Rail side of the dispute did not, of course, mean an end to the struggle, but unfortunately it was obvious that Lynch was looking for a way to bring it to an end. In fact Gall reports that Lynch told one of “the other rail union general secretaries at the House of Commons Select committee on 11 January 2023: ‘there aren’t going to be any more [RMT] strikes’.” As Gall points out, this is not how events transpired, but only because of pressure from below.

A further eight days of strike action were taken against the TOCs. Gall estimates that these were able to stop between 50-60% of services in those strikes. While that is significant, it was at least 20% less than we halted while Network Rail members were still in the fight.

Immediately after the agreement on Network Rail there was a new offer from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which Gall accurately describes as only marginally improved from the offer previously dismissed as “dreadful” by Lynch. Nonetheless, on the basis of that offer strike action was called off. However, there was deep-seated discontent about this among union activists. In opposition to Lynch, the union’s lay-member national executive committee (NEC) voted for the offer to go out for consultation to branches, which confirmed a high level of anger at the offer.

Then, as Gall puts it, “at the end of April Lynch accused the RDG of reneging on their original proposals and torpedoing the negotiations with the sudden discovery of a no strike stipulation”. Gall argues that, in fact, it was clear in the text of the deal from the beginning that “one of the conditions for accepting the offer was that ‘no further industrial action or legal challenges associated with this current dispute both at an industry and company level will be pursued by the RMT’.” In our view Gall is correct when he surmises that it was the increasing anger of RMT members at the weakness of the deal on the table, rather than the ‘discovery’ of a no-strike clause, which was central to a re-ballot being called, resulting in a magnificent 91% for action, on a 69% turnout.

There was then a single strike day in June, three days in July, and single day Saturday strikes in August and September. The widespread feeling among members was that the dispute had no clear direction, yet despite this members again voted overwhelmingly for further action in the October re-ballot. Then in late November 2023 our leadership put out to ballot a new ‘memorandum of understanding’ from the RDG, which was accepted by a majority. Socialist Party members in RMT again argued to reject. The offer had two parts. Part one was a 5% or £1,750 pay rise, whichever was greater, backdated to the 2022 pay anniversary. Part two was for the union to enter into discussions with each individual TOC in February 2024, which will aim to negotiate a pay deal for 2023. This means that, although by accepting the memorandum the national dispute is officially terminated, future battles at TOC level are on the table.

Overall, it is clear that our strikes did succeed in forcing some concessions from the employers. In addition, the campaign against ticket office closures that we led forced a major government U-turn. And there is room to fight on over many of the issues where we didn’t win clear victories. This is not only true on the TOCs but also on Network Rail, where there are ongoing issues about the terms and conditions of maintenance workers.

Lessons for next time

However, to fight more effectively next time, we need to learn lessons from the last two years. Gall quotes Mick Lynch from early in the dispute as saying, “I’m not going to turn round and say ‘we’re out for six months without a break’, I don’t think the members are ready for it. So we’ll be smart in what we do”. It is absolutely true that there was no clamour from below to move to all out-strike action. It is also true that, as the strike ground on, members were badly feeling the financial pinch. Gall estimates that, by June 2023, the average wages lost by strikers was £2,000.

Gall accurately compares the very limited strike fund of the RMT unfavourably to that of Unite, which he estimates at £35 million in 2022. Unite has been able to pay £70 a day strike pay, which has helped it to conduct all-out strike action, winning a number of significant victories. Unite’s determination, under both Len McCluskey and Sharon Graham’s leadership, to build a significant strike fund is to be commended.

Gall makes a correct point that most unions, including the RMT, only started building strike funds “in the few months leading up to striking, showing a lack of serious strategic planning”. He doesn’t sufficiently recognise the real difficulties we faced compared to Unite. With a membership around one fifteenth of the size of Unite, and organising strikes that involved a majority of our membership, rather than the much smaller strikes organised by Unite in the recent period, paying adequate strike pay was a far greater challenge for us.

Nonetheless, he is right that, given it was clear to us all that a battle with the employers and government was looming, we could and should have launched a strike fund much earlier. And even without sufficient advance planning, we could have built a big enough fund to pay significant strike pay. Doing so would have required a serious appeal to the working class as whole. Given the enthusiasm that existed for our fight at the start of the strike, and the fact that we were so clearly in the front line – along with the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) – in the first round of the strike wave, significant funds could have been raised.

What kind of action could have been achieved if a better lead had been given? After a long period of very low levels of class struggle, the workers’ movement in Britain is at the start of a new era of increased militancy. As Lynch put it, “the working class is back”. However, even in the RMT, which has a higher percentage of activists than most, we still began the strikes from a relatively low level. Many of our members did not have experience of going on strike, especially on National Rail, unlike London Underground which has had more frequent industrial action. As a result a certain initial naivety about what was necessary for victory was inevitable. Faced with determined employers we were undeniably in a difficult battle, with no guarantees of victory. Nonetheless, while Mick might have believed that he had to be ‘smart’ to get round the alleged unwillingness of our members to escalate the strike action, actually our ranks repeatedly pushed the leadership forward and, despite a prolonged period where no clear strategy was on offer, continued to demonstrate their willingness to fight by repeatedly and overwhelmingly voting for continued action.

Clearly arguing to escalate the length of strikes would have been an important means to increase the pressure on the employers. A mass campaign for a solidarity fund to enable some strike pay would have aided this. However, escalation did not have to mean all out – or even everyone out for a longer length of time – at least initially. The London Underground strike planned for January 2024 was for five days, but with different groups of workers coming out on different days, and an overtime ban for engineering and maintenance workers throughout the week. The action was called off after the London Mayor Sadiq Khan capitulated at the last moment and found £30 million ‘down the back of the sofa’. The RMT on London Underground, more than any other part of the union, has a long history of regular reps meetings to hammer out and democratically agree tactics. The Socialist Party, members of which have served as the Region 11 London Transport representative on the RMT NEC for five of the last ten years, has played an important role in building and maintaining that approach.

In contrast, the Network Rail strike was called off without any meetings of area reps. This gave no opportunity to signalling staff in particular, to argue to fight on using the tactic of an overtime ban by this crucial group of workers. Such an overtime ban was twice proposed and then called off. Yet it was clear to signallers that, given their crucial role and staffing levels, an overtime ban would have had a big effect in forcing the company onto the back foot.

That said, it has to be recognised that RMT members in the TOCs took far more action over the past two years than has been the case on London Underground. It is over-simplistic to just say that more action would have won. Inevitably some members in the TOCs lost confidence that the dispute could be won the longer it went on. These concerns were reflected by many members, reps and on the NEC itself in its decision to put the 2023 offer to members.

While Gall focuses on the amount of action taken and the need for a strike fund, the failure to build on the generalisation of the fight-back over the cost of living crisis was also crucial. This failure cannot be laid at the door of any one general secretary or union. But it is plain that further generalised strike days and continuing to build a strike movement across the unions could have rebuilt confidence amongst RMT members and, for that matter, across the trade union movement. This could have won far more and potentially brought down the Tory government.

The pressure on the government could have been enormously increased behind the call for a 24-hour general strike. On Budget Day, 15 March 2023, teachers, doctors and civil servants struck together in the biggest single day of strike action of the year, with around 600,000 on strike, and a major march in London. Gall quotes Lynch as explaining that “we will run the national railway on 15 March to facilitate this mobilisation of our fellow striking workers and carry out our own strike action the following day. This will be a powerful message of workers’ solidarity” (Members’ Communication, 20 February 2023). This was an entirely legitimate approach, given the role of the railways in getting workers to the demo. However, what actually happened was that all action was suspended on 7 March for a very poor offer.

In the absence of a move towards general strike action or even a broad coalition of unions taking action together, the possibility could still have been grasped to coordinate more effectively within the rail industry, by coordinating with the train drivers’ union ASLEF. This could have partly offset the difficulties faced once the Network Rail dispute had been settled. Again, it would be over simplistic to put the failure to achieve this coordination down to one person. There was opposition to coordination from some quarters within the union and some activists saw an advantage to separate action that allowed each to cause disruption to the employer on different days.

A fighting lead to build the dispute would have allowed members and reps to meet, together with their ASLEF counterparts, at every level, to coordinate action, even if that meant action of different days over a week but in a way that allowed members to feel the power of the rail unions working together in a fight to defend their industry, jobs and conditions.

The industrial and political connection

Gall quotes one unnamed RMT executive member as saying, “no one on the RMT Executive is right wing, but Mick was on the right-wing of the Executive”. Politically, he would probably be happy to recognise he is on the right of the union, seeing that as a separate issue, and constantly anxious to emphasise his dislike of ‘lefties’ and ‘paper sellers’. Actually, however, his approach to both questions are tightly bound together.

Gall spends a bit of time on the Enough is Enough initiative, which was launched in the summer of 2022 by Dave Ward, CWU general secretary, along with Mick Lynch. It engendered a lot of enthusiasm, with half a million joining and tens of thousands attending rallies. Yet, a year later, it had virtually disappeared. Gall sums up its demise as having “experienced a similar fate to the campaigns that went before it, like the People’s Charter, the Coalition of Resistance, People’s Assembly and so on”. He is not, however, able to explain why. He says it did not have the “social weight” of some comparable campaigns in other countries like ‘the Indignados’ in Spain or the ‘Gilet Jaunes’ in France. That, however, doesn’t hold water. As the leaders of unions at the head of a strike wave, which engendered huge enthusiasm from broad sections of the working class and young people, Enough is Enough had considerable social weight, at least potentially.

But the reality was that, Mick Lynch particularly, saw Enough is Enough mainly as a means of avoiding something else – the trade unions entering the political field themselves. The RMT AGM (annual conference) took place in July 2022 yet no mention was made of Enough is Enough which was launched just a month later without any democratic discussion in our union. Instead Mick Lynch used his authority to affect a shift in the political stance of the union at the 2022 AGM.

At the conference a resolution from the Coventry No.1 branch, proposed by a Socialist Party member, was debated. It noted the disaffiliation of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) from Labour since the last AGM – after a 119-year association – and the continued suspension of Jeremy Corbyn from the parliamentary party, barring him from standing again as a Labour candidate in the next general election.

“We must now recognise that the brief window of opportunity that the election of Jeremy Corbyn provided us with to transform the Labour Party… is well and truly over”, it argued. The call was made to support Corbyn standing independently in the general election; to back “pro-trade union, anti-austerity candidates in local and general elections” (which could, of course, include left-wing Labour candidates); and, lastly, to approach the BFAWU and Unite to organise a conference to discuss the possibility of a new union-based party to meet “the historic crisis of political representation facing the working class”.

The motion was defeated, with Mick Lynch arguing vehemently against. The one motion on political representation that was passed, backed by Mick Lynch, was an ‘emergency motion’ from Paddington No.1 branch arguing that the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) should cease its electoral activity “for now” or, if there continued to be TUSC candidates, for the RMT to withdraw its official participation in the coalition.

This was a significant retreat from our union’s previous position, established under Bob Crow’s leadership. After being expelled from the Labour Party in 2004 for backing Scottish Socialist Party candidates, the RMT continued to fight for a political voice for workers including at the ballot box. In backing the ‘No2EU: Yes to Democracy’ coalition at the 2009 European elections, the RMT became the first trade union to support a national electoral challenge to Labour since the party’s formation.

Although No2EU, standing in all nine English regions and in Scotland and Wales, polled just 1%, with Bob Crow heading the list in London, it was still important to have a workers’ voice speaking against the EU bosses’ club’s neoliberal agenda, distinct from right-wing nationalist Tories, UKIP and the far-right British National Party.

In 2010, following the No2EU experience, Bob, with the Socialist Party and others, co-founded TUSC to take the fight for independent working-class political representation into the trade union movement. This included providing an opportunity for trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists from different parties or none to stand in elections on a common platform of minimum anti-austerity and socialist core policies. It was not until 2012 that the RMT AGM agreed that the union should be officially represented on the TUSC all-Britain steering committee. For the first two and a half years Bob Crow and others from the RMT sat on the committee in a personal capacity, while support for TUSC and the wider fight for working-class political representation was built in the union. 

Formally speaking our 2022 AGM’s decision only returned things to the same position as existed in 2010-12. However, for Mick Lynch and his supporters in our union, they represented an important victory. Mick has been consistent on this issue. Gall quotes him opposing Bob Crow’s approach at the 2006 AGM, saying that “trying to set up a new socialist party when so many already existed and ‘pointlessly contest elections’ was a fool’s errand”. In 2020, after Starmer had become Labour leader, Mick Lynch vociferously opposed the decision to support the resumption of TUSC’s electoral activity. He was defeated on the NEC by ten votes to four, but he didn’t leave the matter there.

Shortly afterwards, in January 2021, the RMT London Transport Regional Council, noting that “Ken Livingstone won his first election standing against the official Labour candidate”, proposed that, unless Sadiq Khan gave “assurances not to implement cuts” that “Jeremy Corbyn should be approached by the RMT and offered support should he be prepared to stand” in the London Mayoral election in May 2021. This proposal was rejected by the national union, with Mick Lynch’s arguments against including that Corbyn might still be reinstated to the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

Recognising the reality of Starmerism

This argument has now been shown to be wishful thinking. As have the unsuccessful arguments put by Mick Lynch earlier against supporting TUSC resuming electoral activity. The Minority Report which he supported argued “that despite the change of Labour leadership it remains Labour Party policy to support our key policies on transport and trade union rights” and further that, “Labour party policy on supporting public ownership of rail and bus continues to be Labour policy as does support for our seafarer members as evidenced by the recent interventions by the Labour Party front bench. We also note Labour continues to support our policies on employment and trade union rights and that a friend of this union, Andy McDonald MP, has responsibility for this brief in the Shadow Cabinet”. 

Today the ‘friend’ of our union, Andy McDonald, is no longer in the shadow cabinet. For a period he was suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party for saying that “we will not rest until all people, Israelis and Palestinians, between the river and the sea, can live in peaceful liberty”. He is not alone. Of the nine Labour candidates that the RMT sponsored in 2017 who are still MPs today, two – Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbot – are suspended from the party.

Nor do the claims about Labour policy made in that minority report hold true today. The final manifesto will not be published until the election is called, but Labour’s Policy Review document published last year is a major retreat on trade union and workplace rights compared with the party’s position under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. It still pledges repeal of the Trade Union Act 2016 and the Minimum Service Levels (Strikes) Act but our union stands for much more than that. We call for the repeal of all the anti-union laws introduced under both Tory and New Labour governments.

The Policy Review also does not put forward our key policies on transport. It has maintained support for nationalising the TOCs “as contracts with existing operators expire” – as long as it is “consistent with fiscal rules” – but at the end of a five-year term this would still leave a highly-fragmented rail service, with five franchises still in private hands. At the same time there are no promises whatsoever to bring bus services into public ownership. Nor are there any pledges on the terms, conditions and pay of transport workers.

No wonder by the 2023 AGM, Mick Lynch was forced to emphasise that he did not support the union reaffiliating to Labour. That was under pressure from below – as our members became increasingly disillusioned with Starmer, as he consolidated Labour into a reliable representative of capitalist interests. In another reversal of Mick Lynch’s stance from the year before – when he opposed the motion which included the call to back JC standing independently – he also supported the unanimously agreed motion from the London Underground Engineering branch (formerly Bob Crow’s branch), proposed by a Socialist Party member, which gave “full support to Jeremy Corbyn, and to campaign for his re-election as the Islington North MP if he decides to stand in the next general election, including as an independent candidate”.

This decision is welcome, but it is only one, limited step. For a start, Jeremy Corbyn will not be the only left MP or ex-MP who – having been driven out of Starmer’s Labour –contests the election independently. Why not also support Diane Abbott, Emma Dent-Coad, Kate Osamor, and others if they stand? More broadly, if our union had continued with Bob Crow’s approach to working-class political representation surely we could have helped to at least get a group of workers’ MPs elected in the next parliament, including our own, RMT, members standing as candidates.

Mick Lynch’s repeated argument, as he put it at a recent War on Want event, is that voters need to “‘grow up a bit’ and recognise Keir Starmer as the only realistic alternative to the current government”. (The Guardian 24 February 2024)

It is patently true that Starmer’s Labour is going to win the general election, and that there is no prospect in this election of a workers’ government coming to power. But why draw the conclusion that the trade union movement should therefore just back Starmer? It was also true, for example, that a workers’ government was not on the cards when the Labour Party – then the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) – was founded in 1900. At that time, workers were also faced with a choice of two capitalist parties – then it was the Conservatives and the Liberal Party – and the LRC, with just 15 candidates in that year’s election, was only a modest start to the process of creating a new party of the working class. Would Mick argue that our predecessor union, the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS), was wrong to play a key role in founding the LRC?

Even a group of MPs fighting for workers’ interests beyond the general election would strengthen our position for the industrial battles that are clearly ahead. Gall quotes Mick as saying that socialist ideas should not be “delivered by academics and idealogues from outside the movement… but come from within”. We agree. Even before scientific socialism was developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, socialist ideas arose from our class’s experience of capitalism, and our collective struggles against it. Nonetheless, to successfully achieve the socialist transformation of society is clearly going to require our class organising around a political programme. If our union was to help launch a new workers’ party it would give our class a chance to openly discuss what that programme should be, rather than leaving it to ‘academics and idealogues’.

Gall also quotes Mick as saying “the problem with communism is that there were ‘too many dead Russians’” – not that this has prevented him being in an alliance with the Communist Party of Britain on both industrial and political issues. However, Gall also quotes Mick Lynch choosing his favourite ‘dead Russian’ – Julius Martov, leader of the Menshevik party. While this was probably a flippant remark, it reflects something serious about Mick’s approach. The Mensheviks saw the role of the working class in Russia as supporting the ‘progressive’ capitalists, rather than taking power as the working class did in Russia in October 1917, led by the Bolsheviks.

Britain in 2024 is very different to Russia in 1917, but the workers movement supporting the more allegedly ‘progressive’ capitalists is an equally doomed approach. Gall quotes Mick repeatedly declaring “I’m a reformist”, which he defines as “the concept of assertive constant reform and improvement”, and that “I’d like to see a decent Labour government that builds houses and has public ownership”. Clearly Mick is harking back to a different era; the post-war economic upswing from 1950 to the early 1970s. In that brief period of unparalleled capitalist economic growth, the working class was able to win significant concessions. Labour governments did build council houses and carry out other reforms, and Tory governments were forced to follow suit.

Today, however, not only has the character of Labour changed – from a capitalist workers’ party where the organised working class could exert pressure on the capitalist leadership via its democratic structures, to an unalloyed capitalist party – so has the character of capitalism. Capitalism increasingly offers only attacks on our pay, public services and conditions – and even temporary reforms can only be won as a result of determined struggle. It is already clear that this will be the case under a Starmer government.

Our union needs to prepare for what is ahead. Doing so includes working to bring together the militant reps and activists to fight to reverse the steps back we have taken from Bob Crow’s approach. We need to strengthen our democratic structures and wage a campaign of ‘membership mobilisation’ to prepare our union for the battles we will certainly face under a Labour government. Campaigning for greater coordination with the other rail unions will also be needed. The experience of Starmer in power will also quickly raise the need for us to revisit the political issues, and begin again the pioneering work undertaken by Bob Crow to start to build a party of the working class.

The Tory government tried to take us on because they understand the key role of rail workers in the economy, and our resulting industrial strength. They failed, but a Starmer government acting in the interests of the capitalist class will inevitably try to launch a new offensive against us, as part of its effort to curb the demands of the wider working class. We need to be ready.