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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 August 2012

Fare rises and rail cuts: Kick the fat cats off our railways!

The RMT and POA call on parliament to unshackle the unions, photo Paul Mattsson

The RMT and POA call on parliament to unshackle the unions, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Privatised railways don't work. Britain's rail fares - already up to ten times more than those in Italy where the service is state owned - are being increased by between 6% and 11% in January. The First Group's successful bid for the West Coast Main Line franchise has been predicted to result in cuts and increased fairs. The government-supported McNulty report aims to cut 1 billion a year in railway spending - while Network Rail bosses enjoy 18.5 million in bonuses. Virgin boss Richard Branson has 'earned' 204 million from rail since privatisation - no wonder he's bitter about losing the West Coast contract!

RMT leaders Bob Crow and Steve Hedley spoke to the Socialist about why the railways should be renationalised.

A nationalised industry would benefit people who work on the railway; it would give them decent terms and conditions, decent pay and a decent pension.

Steve Hedley, RMT assistant general secretary , photo Suzanne Beishon

Steve Hedley, RMT assistant general secretary , photo Suzanne Beishon

It would be far more efficient for the travelling public. Studies have shown that British Rail - for all its faults - was far more reliable.

British Rail was deliberately starved of investment before privatisation.

Taxpayers would benefit from renationalisation because they're funding these private companies through massive subsidies from the government that go straight into the pockets of the executives.

The McNulty report - the pretext for the government to wield a big axe on the railways - itself acknowledged the cost of the private companies is between three and four times as much as it was with British Rail.

First Group won the West Coast Main Line contract by putting in a bid higher than Richard Branson for Virgin, who himself is a very aggressive capitalist. But even Branson said that the only way First can operate on that bid is to cut staff and cut the service to the public. That's what's going to happen right across the railway - high bids to the government paid for by cuts.

We need coordinated ballots across every company - it's the only way that we can defeat the implementation of the McNulty recommendations. It we do it company by company, we'll be picked off one by one - the government will fund the companies for the losses on strike days.

quote closing

The workers in those companies, if they're all fighting together and realise the strength that they have in a national industry, will be far more keen to fight if they see a strategy that's likely to bring them victory.

Steve Hedley, RMT transport union assistant general secretary elect

Steve Hedley stood for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in the 2012 London Assembly elections. TUSC stands against all cuts and for rail renationalisation. Come to the TUSC 2012 conference - see below


quote opening

From fare rises to franchises, the exploitation and greed of the private train operators and their supporters at the heart of government has been kicked right to the centre of the stage.

Bob Crow, General Secretary, RMT, photo by Sujeeth

Bob Crow, General Secretary, RMT, photo by Sujeeth

The case for renationalisation is now both overwhelming and endorsed by a massive majority of the British people. Labour politicians who whinge about the attacks on the travelling public by the train operators while failing to come out in favour of the public alternative just expose themselves as bound up with the old Blairite agenda. It's down to us in the unions to force the political pace on the renationalisation campaign on this surging tide of public anger."

Bob Crow, RMT transport union general secretary

Bob Crow is one of the speakers at the National Shop Stewards Network lobby of the TUC for a 24-hour general strike


Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) conference

Saturday 22 September 2012

11am-5pm

Room B34, Birkbeck College, Malet Street, London WC1E

Includes an afternoon session, 'For councillors who will stand up to the Con-Dems!', which will discuss TUSC's local election policy platform and preparations for the 2013 local elections.

All welcome. Registration 5 waged/2 unwaged.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 22 August 2012:


International socialist news and analysis

Support South African miners


National Shop Stewards Network

Lobby the TUC on 9 September: Demand a 24-hour strike against austerity


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