Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1106/31509
RMT: Programme to fight redundancies and cuts
Socialist Party members in RMT
The RMT transport union's national executive committee (NEC) has agreed a policy on fighting redundancies, pay cuts and attacks on conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This policy is an important statement of our union's position at this time. RMT has set itself against any attempt to make workers pay for the Covid crisis at a time when, unfortunately, the leaderships of the Trades Union Congress and many unions are buying into the Tory lie that we're all in it together.
Government borrowing this year has already exceeded the annual borrowing at the height of the 2008 banking crisis. Since 2008, workers have paid the cost of bailouts to the rich and powerful. Pay has not kept pace with inflation, and public services have been decimated.
Yet the wealthiest 1,000 people in Britain doubled their wealth, and then increased it by the same amount again, in the ten years following the banking crisis. It is inevitable that the ruling elite, the 1% who control our economy, will seek a similar solution to the economic fallout from Covid.
Of course, RMT members working for train-operating companies, Network Rail, London Underground and many other employers, managed to protect our real pay levels after 2008. This was achieved by refusing to accept the bogus argument that workers needed to share the pain of the financial losses caused by bankers. Our policy on fighting redundancies, pay cuts and attacks on conditions now sends a clear signal to all that we will resist any attempt to make workers subsidise the rich now.
The struggle between workers and the elite will be even sharper this time around. Many workers cannot afford another round of austerity and our public services have nothing left to cut.
We also have to take account though of the fear many workers have of losing their jobs and a lack of confidence that we can resist the tide of job cuts and other attacks. RMT must build support for our policy on resisting all attacks from the bosses. We must build the confidence of members in our ability to fight back.
This means branches and regions holding special meetings, on Zoom where necessary, to launch our campaign. It means looking to broaden strike calls and public campaigns against job cuts or other attacks.
Where a service is shut down or carrying very few passengers, we need to look at taking action on the employer's other contracts or take sector-wide action. RMT should demand a rail industry-wide no redundancy agreement with the government and employers, and consider balloting for action against any employer who does not agree this.
Agreeing the policy is just the first step in raising the confidence of members and outlining how we can fight back to defend jobs, pay and conditions. Now RMT must do everything possible to publicise the policy and to take it into the TUC and wider trade union movement. We should seek alliances with other unions who are prepared to fight and put demands onto the TUC leadership.
It is unfortunate that, just as this battle for jobs and conditions is intensifying, a letter from the General Secretary of RMT, attacking the elected RMT national executive committee, has been sent to members and has found its way into the capitalist press.
Allegations of bullying have been made in the union by and against the general secretary and others. The national executive committee has ordered an independent inquiry into the issue of harassment and bullying.
It is crucial, though, that the democratic oversight that the national executive committee exercises over national officers under the unions rules does not get diluted at this time. It is not a coincidence that similar tensions between lay member representatives and full-time officials have emerged in other unions. In a period of intense class struggle, the control of trade unions by their members is more important than ever.
These issues must be addressed so that RMT can operate its democratic structures as effectively as possible, with all members free to contribute to debates. First and foremost, all RMT branches, regions and reps must be committed to building our fightback and working to get support for this from every member.
In The Socialist 21 October 2020: