On Monday and Tuesday next week, employees of Network Rail were due to go on strike, but both unions have just called off their action. The strike had been called by the RMT and TSSA unions, and would have caused massive disruption for individuals and businesses, with perhaps 90% of trains not running. Should we be angry at those striking when it is so disruptive?
Network Rail last year posted a profit of £1bn, a 39% increase from 2013. Senior executives patted themselves on the back with ~45% pay rises, despite all the bad press Network Rail has had recently. Meanwhile, the rest of its workforce was only offered a one-off £500 taxable lump sum, and any future pay rises will track inflation. It’s easy to understand why the employees wanted to take action, and in a top down, hierarchical organisation, the only way to get yourself heard is to rebel.
Our new full-fat Tory government plans to make strike action require 50% turnout and 40% support of union members voting in favour, which will effectively make almost any future strike action illegal. Let’s not forget that the Conservatives won the election with only 24% of the population voting for them.
As cuts become more severe, and profit is directed only to those at the top, strike action should become more prevalent, and we need to encourage and support it. If your train is cancelled next week, don’t blame the underpaid staff, blame the senior executives and government.
Featured image – Rose and Trev Clough (via Geograph)