Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 7 September 2016

RMT executive member John Reid speaks to the Socialist

Rail workers fighting back!

Southern workers on strike in June protest in Brighton photo Neil Cafferky

Southern workers on strike in June protest in Brighton photo Neil Cafferky   (Click to enlarge)

The summer has been a 'hot' one for the RMT union of transport and maritime workers, with a number of disputes on the rail network and in the offshore oil industry. The union has received much support and solidarity from workers and rail passengers and coverage in the press. RMT executive member and Socialist Party member John Reid spoke to the Socialist about the union's busy summer.

The disputes the RMT has been involved in this summer are all tied to the bosses' drive to implement austerity and severe cutbacks. There has been the drive to implement driver-only operated trains on Southern, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and ScotRail.

There has been some resolution of the ScotRail dispute due to the action we have taken but on Southern, the bosses are failing to succumb to an agreement.

We were close but we know from outside sources there has been pressure from the government for the bosses to carry on attacking, which has been shown by the government giving this company a 20 million pay off. The company has made full-year profits of 100 million at the same time as bringing misery to thousands of passengers who pay very high fares for the service. The major issue is the removal of guards which has led to an increase of platform incidents already and the dispute will go on. We are back out on strike on 7 and 8 September.

On London Underground there have been ongoing disputes. On the Piccadilly line there has been a breakdown in relations with management and on the Hammersmith and City line, as well as in engineering, there is an attempt to take away a core working agreement. These workers are balloting at the moment to defend their terms and conditions.


Management are putting forward more proposals to make cuts of 2.9 billion on London Underground. They are attempting to do this by worsening our conditions and pay but we will resist them.

It is a question of resisting austerity measures and we will re-ballot if needed and will ensure we meet imposed thresholds required by new government legislation. We will ensure we remain a militant, fighting trade union, despite the Trade Union Act.

We have also had the first maritime strike for almost 30 years against Wood Group, a multinational oil and gas services company. It looks like many of the demands will be met due to the heroic strike action by this group of offshore workers. The company was making huge profits from North Sea oil but is now facing a fall in profits and wants to take that out on the workers.

The strike was backed up by protests outside Shell headquarters in London and other areas, supported by the National Shop Stewards Network.

We've won a number of victories; one of them was on the London Underground which brought tube lines from private company Amey back in house, which is a major victory by the union. While on Southern management have backed down on the closure of 83 ticket offices, which is a victory too.


The press coverage we have received has been the usual for our union. But in the Southern dispute for example, I don't think they've been able to find a passenger who backs the company over the union despite their best efforts.

On London Underground the majority of passengers back our struggle against austerity which they relate to their own workplace. The Daily Mail claimed our president, Sean Hoyle, recieved 47,000 in expenses. But these sorts of expenses are simply not paid out by our union and at the time they claim that he got these expenses he wasn't even president!

We are used to these attacks, they only attack us because we are a militant trade union not carrying out the wishes of the bosses.

Commuter trains are packed, unreliable and overpriced, photo Kurtis Garbutt (Creative Commons)

Commuter trains are packed, unreliable and overpriced, photo Kurtis Garbutt (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

As for 'Traingate', across the rail network there are issues of overcrowding. There should be an increase in stock, a full subsidy of National Rail and on London Underground - instead of cutting the subsidies, the money should be increased. There are forever increasing numbers of passengers on National Rail and London Underground. We should have fully financed, publically owned rail.

All workers should be brought in house, getting rid of agency work, with a decent wage and decent conditions. I think the interesting thing is that the evidence of other passengers on board the train Jeremy Corbyn was on was that they suffered the same situation, seats weren't available immediately.

We have a position that rail should be nationalised and Jeremy Corbyn supports that, people around the country support that.

Across the rail network we need greater staffing, for health and safety reasons and rail should be about the service we provide for users and passengers, not about profit. The whole system should be about need, not profit.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 7 September 2016:


#KeepCorbyn: build the movement against austerity

Break with Blairites essential to defeat split Tories

Should socialists give electoral support to Labour right?

#KeepCorbyn: reports from the campaign

Socialist Party news and analysis

Apple told to pay 11bn: nationalise all the tax dodgers!

Refugee crisis: for homes, jobs and services for all

Women lose out in the workplace

London bailiff use soars by half

Them & Us

What We Saw

TUC congress 2016

Organise mass working class resistance to austerity

International socialist news and analysis

Brazil: impeachment farce only serves big business

International news in brief

Workplace news and analysis

Junior doctors plan to continue contract struggle

Rail workers fighting back!

Premium pay cuts are not just any cuts, they are M&S cuts

Royal Mail wildcat strike against bullying bosses

Workplace news in brief

Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Letter: back the docs!

Socialism, black liberation and cricket - the life of CLR James

The Socialist inbox

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Huge turnout in support of Huddersfield NHS campaign

Grantham on the march against 'life and death' cuts to health service

London fighting fund BBQ success


Home   |   The Socialist 7 September 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleJared Wood overwhelmingly elected to RMT executive

triangleSolid support for guards on West Midlands Trains

triangleIt's a strike to ensure the safety of the travelling public

triangleSWR strike: "We're up for the fight"

triangleWest Midlands Trains: guards strike to defend safety-critical role


triangleSocial workers lobby Hull City Council

triangleSouth African Airways workers win wage increase after strike action

triangleThe Great Big Socialist Party Quiz 2019

triangleStudents and workers united in struggle


triangleLong hours in the world of security

triangleRail report into death of Cardiff Socialist Party member

triangleInterview with Sean Hoyle - left candidate in RMT general secretary election

The Socialist:

triangleFight for your future - join the socialists

triangleSelling the Socialist


triangleHackney Socialist Party: What will the election result mean for 2020?

John Reid:

triangleReclaim the Game book launch


triangleStrikes: more determined than ever


triangleUnite against terrorism, racism, war and austerity

London underground:

triangleTransport for London - Justice for cleaners!


triangleRoyal Mail court ruling - national reps meeting and solidarity action essential

Trade union:

triangleSecret police infiltration of workers' movement exposed


triangleThe Socialist inbox


triangleRMT union members at SWR to walk out in December

Tube Lines:

triangleRMT wins important tube jobs and grading victory

Shop Stewards:

triangleNSSN conference 2019: at the heart of trade union struggle


triangleYet another wage-busting fare hike? Nationalise rail now!

Health and safety:

triangleNewham housing repairs workers announce strike dates

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangle'McStrikers' demand 15 an hour

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Swansea: Corbyn rally attracts turnout but many can't get in


Socialist Party

Fight for your future - join the socialists



Strikes: more determined than ever


Socialist Students

Students and workers united in struggle


South Western Railway

It's a strike to ensure the safety of the travelling public



Surrey firefighters to ballot on Christmas industrial action



Social workers lobby Hull City Council


Climate change

Climate strikes: Students and trade unionists protest together


Socialist Party

Why I joined: "Proud to be a socialist"



Carlisle election meeting: Education - time to make the mega-rich and corporations pay



Workplace news in brief


West Midlands

Solid support for guards on West Midlands Trains


Climate change

Climate change election debate - Corbyn offers best green solutions but needs to go further


The Socialist

Selling the Socialist


Royal Mail

Royal Mail court ruling - national reps meeting and solidarity action essential

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019