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Interview with RMT candidate
Fight the cuts - for a workers' alternative
Steve Hedley, London Regional Organiser, RMT , photo Socialist Party
The London regional organiser for the RMT transport union, Steve Hedley, gave a fraternal address to the Socialist Party's 2012 congress. Steve, who is a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) list candidate in the 2012 Greater London Assembly elections, spoke to Bob Severn from the Socialist.
Why are you standing for TUSC in the London elections?
We need an alternative to the Labour Party because they're not representing working people anymore. They seek funds from the trade union movement, but when the trade union movement has any issues that we want aired, they're not backing us up. Ed Miliband condemned people for going on strike to defend their pensions and that's just not tenable. We need people up there who are going to put our point of view forward.
The Labour Party leaders say that cuts should be made but the Con-Dems are going 'too far and too fast'. They support the public sector pay freeze and wouldn't reverse the cuts made so far. What do you say?
There should be no cuts. Everybody knows now that bankers' bonuses have increased. They know about the money being held offshore in tax havens. They know about the billions of pounds that are owed in tax loopholes. It's up to the government to get hold of that money, bring it back into the economy to stop it benefitting a few rich individuals and start benefitting the whole of the country.
What's happening in London RMT over workers' pay and conditions for the Olympics?
We're looking at Olympic bonuses for all of our staff. Cleaners have won a 25% Olympic bonus on London Overground. We want a significant bonus for all our staff who are going to be doing extra work and if we don't get it we have to give an industrial response.
There have been reports of further increases in peak time rail fares being planned. Do you see this as the thin end of the wedge of the McNulty report reforms?
It's part of the strategy of the train operating companies to maximise the profits they can squeeze out of people. It's absolutely appalling. McNulty himself said that it's over four times as expensive to run a privatised railway than a nationalised one. At least £1.2 billion could be saved by renationalisation so renationalisation should be the answer to all these problems. The job cuts are going to endanger the travelling public as well.
Engineering and maintenance is going to be cut. The tracks and the signals are going to be less well maintained. The stations and the ticket offices are going to be destaffed to a large extent so if there's an incident there's going to be less people to deal with it.
We think the union can have common ground with the public in opposing all these cuts.
You're also standing in this year's election for the RMT position of assistant general secretary (AGS). Why should RMT members vote for you?
I've got a record of organising people on the London Underground and the London transport region to get better pay, better conditions and to defend jobs.
I've come up with a credible strategy of opposing the McNulty report. We have to have a coordinated political and industrial strategy. We've got to build links with commuter groups and passenger groups.
But at the end of the day if we're going to stop this thing coming in we've got to a have a credible campaign of extended, unified industrial action to make these people withdraw from this terrible report that they're going to try to implement.
Otherwise we're going to end up with exactly what the report wants: De-staffed stations - people who are left there are going to have their wages cuts by 30%.
We're here to defend all working people's jobs. We're not going to pay for this crisis of capitalism on the one hand and the crisis that they've created on the railway with privatisation on the other hand. Why should ordinary workers pay for it?
As AGS I would be pushing for full renationalisation. Now is the time to do that. We've got the figures to back us up. We should fight for renationalisation and fight for the rank and file members out there.
Public rally to launch London TUSC campaign
Wednesday 21 March, 7.15pm
235 Shaftesbury Avenue London WC2H 8EP
- Bob Crow, general secretary rail union RMT
- Matt Wrack, general secretary Fire Brigades Union
- Alex Gordon, president RMT & TUSC candidate
- Ian Leahair, firefighters' union FBU national executive & TUSC candidate
- April Ashley, Unison national executive & TUSC candidate
- Jackie Turner, doctor and health campaigner & TUSC candidate
Chaired by TUSC candidate Nick Wrack
TUSC against cuts
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition list for the London Assembly elections:
Alex Gordon, president of rail union RMT
Nick Wrack, TUSC national committee
April Ashley, Unison executive, representing black women members
Sian Griffiths, FBU
Steve Hedley, RMT London organiser
Ian Leahair, Fire Brigades Union national committee member
Gary McFarlane, anti-racist activist
Martin Powell-Davies, executive member for Inner London of the teachers union NUT
Merlin Reader, postal worker
Joe Simpson, assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers Association
Jenny Sutton, lecturers union UCU
Nancy Taaffe, library worker made redundant, former chair Waltham Forest Unison
Jackie Turner, GP
Lesley Woodburn, SERTUC LGBTQ committee
Lee Vernon, Young Members convenor for London and southeast of the civil service union PCS Lesley Woodburn, Unite rep on southeast regional TUC LGBTQ committee.
Candidates are in a personal capacity
In The Socialist 15 March 2012:
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Socialist Party congress
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