Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 27 April 2006

Rail unions unite to defend pensions

"WE WILL take united strike action to defend pensions and we need to do it before 1 July this year." Bob Crow, general secretary of the rail union RMT made this statement at a recent conference of 500 rail workers in central London.

Bill Mullins

This was the ninth and final "round Britain" rally of rail workers organised by the three main rail unions, RMT, ASLEF and TSSA.

In an unprecedented show of unity, all three general secretaries expressed their support for industrial action if the employers continue to refuse to back off from their threat to rail workers' pensions.

Most of the 103 separate rail workers' pension funds - there was only one fund when the railways were publicly owned - have said that they will unilaterally increase the workers' contributions and increase the retirement age.

There are now 103 separate auditors, 103 separate actuaries, 103 separate administrators, 103 separate trustees and 103 separate sets of lawyers. It's no wonder that the schemes are now unviable even before you take into account the private bosses ripping them off for their own profit. This is yet another case of privatisation bad, public good.

Gerry Doherty, the general secretary of TSSA, said that the rail workers' pensions black hole is now between 550 and 600 million pounds.

"When BR was privatised and sold for 2 billion, the pension fund stood at 8 billion, now '13.5 billion. The sharks who privatised the scheme have taken pension holidays. Despite workers making uninterrupted contributions, they are now being told that at least half of them will have to double their contributions to 22% of their salaries if they want to draw the same benefits."

As Bob Crow later said: "Future generations of rail workers will work on Monday for their pension, on Tuesday for their tax, on Wednesday for their national insurance and to pay off their student debts. If they're lucky they might have something left from Thursday and Friday to pay their mortgage."

He also made the point that the rail unions had traditionally been divided but this time it was different. He emphasised that the unions have different methods of reaching decisions but they will start united and finish united. "It might mean a one-day strike, it might mean a one-hour strike," said Bob.

At one stage he pointed to me in the audience and said: "Bill Mullins from the Socialist Party is there taking notes and I want to emphasise for his paper that we will strike to defend our pensions".

An important point made by Bob was that when there are strikes on the rail system the private companies do not lose out. The government, that is the tax payer, reimburses them for their losses.

Speakers from the floor, including a Socialist Party member from London Underground, emphasised the need to unite with other groups of workers in defence of pensions, like the council workers.

Another speaker wanted the unions to stand their own candidates in elections.

ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman replied by saying he had been a Labour Party member for 34 years but with the current scandals, he has never been so disappointed. But neither he, Gerry Doherty or unfortunately Bob Crow, replied to the issue of the unions standing their own candidates.

The union's main demands are: No cuts in benefits, no work till you are 65 and a maximum worker contribution of 10.56%.

It is clear that Gerry Doherty might be satisfied with getting the government to intervene. But if the unions are to ensure no detriment to the pension rights of present and future generations, they will have to demand that all the funds are put under one roof. The private employers must be forced to put back all they have stolen. This must be linked to a stepped-up campaign to renationalise the whole of the rail system.

The unions have called a lobby of Parliament for Tuesday 9 May, starting at 1pm.

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.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 27 April 2006:

Socialist Party NHS campaign


Hewitt 'isolated from real world'

Socialist Party election campaign

Socialist ideas strike a chord

Education feature

Good quality schools for all, not just the few

1926 General Strike

Workers taste power by Peter Taaffe

Environment: Nuclear power

Is Blair leading Britain to nuclear catastrophe?

Campaign for a New Workers Party

Building the campaign

Socialist Party workplace news

Defend jobs and services

Public services not private profit

Taking the profits and running

Rail unions unite to defend pensions

International socialist news and analysis

Fears of revolution force concessions in Nepal

War looms after Colombo bombing in Sri Lanka

No more tears sister

Anti-cuts alternative confirmed in Berlin city elections

High School students threatened with suspension for antiwar activity


Home   |   The Socialist 27 April 2006   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleFighting for over 250 jobs that are under threat at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. Photo M Kamish

triangleTory think tank proposes attack on pensions

triangleUniversity workers' strike escalates

triangleUniversity strikers walk out for better pay and pensions

triangle14 more days of university strikes over pensions, pay and conditions


triangleCovid and the campuses

triangleLondon bus drivers begin strike ballot over remote sign-on dispute

triangleDover: Solidarity with refugees - applause and cheers for socialist ideas to unite working class

triangleLondon bus drivers poised for strike action


triangleTesting shambles: unions must fight back

triangleJobs, training, pay, we want a future!

triangleUS presidential election nominees Howie Hawkins & Angela Walker talk with CWI media next Sunday, 27 Sept, 3pm. Facebook: socialistworld Youtube: cwimedia


triangleTransport union RMT tells members: refuse to work in unsafe conditions

triangleThe Red Line - Bulletin of Socialist Party members in the RMT


triangleFrench workers demonstrating in Paris on 16 January; Over 40 days of strike action have taken place against the government's attack on pensions. Photo James Ivens

Bob Crow:

triangleNSSN conference 2019: at the heart of trade union struggle


triangleOnline rally: Fight the London transport funding cuts!


triangleP&O: defend every job - nationalise the ferries

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


The Socialist

The Socialist: More than a newspaper



Coventry: Socialist Students is back



Liverpool Council must save care homes



Sussex: Hands off Peacehaven schools


Fighting Fund

Fighting fund: One week to raise 3,444



Workplace news in brief



Dispatches from the front - chaotic schools are not safe!


The Socialist

Selling the Socialist


Socialist Party

Why I joined the Socialist Party: Tories and Blairites only care about corporate greed


Young people

Covid generation says 'fund our future'



Coventry: scrap 'profit before people' hospital parking charges


National Shop Stewards Network

Lobbying for a lead from the TUC



Angry health workers demand 15% now!



Reinstate Richie Venton



Reinstate Tony Smith

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: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020