Newcastle RMT picket line 5

Newcastle RMT picket line 5   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

‘Martin Pryor’, striking RMT rail guard

The government continues to claim that Britain’s economy is doing great and that everyone’s wages are sky high.

But transport minister Chris ‘failing’ Grayling this month was happy to announce that railway staff shouldn’t be allowed pay rises as they are the direct cause of rail fare increases.

It’s now obvious what the Conservatives truly believe and are doing. They claim that wages are rising, but use any worker getting a pay rise as an excuse for their failing policies – truly having their cake and eating it too.

In this case, they use their own fare hike as another stick to try and beat the safety-critical railway staff with.

The government has been attacking the rights and wages of staff at the cost of public safety since 2010.

This is a not so subtle attempt at an attack on RMT conductors, guards and drivers who are striking for public safety because the government is obsessed with reducing the cost of staff and breaking one of the strongest fighting unions.

The government would have us believe that if they were successful in removing guards from trains then they would reduce ticket prices immediately.

But more likely the money saved would be swallowed up by directors’ bonuses and by the shareholders – all the while not mentioning the real costs of this inept privatisation which takes money away from improving services and puts it into fat cats’ pockets.

For example pre-privatisation, all rolling stock (the actual trains in the network) was bought and paid for and put into service. Then, in 1994, all the stock was sold off to three companies for £1.8 billion.

But in a report from 1998, the stock was said to have had a value of £2.9 billion. So rather than train companies owning their own trains and each franchise being organised with set routes and trains, these rolling stock companies now lease the trains to the companies, bringing a new cost which is passed onto the passenger.

The cost of leasing these trains for 2016-17 hit £1.8 billion. The amount the government received in a one-off payment is exactly how much the companies now charge for one year’s use of them.

This is one of the many drains that takes money from the public as we bear the costs while being stuck with all the risks and drawbacks of privatisation.