The right to strike’s fundamental in a democratic society. Working people may have the right to vote but when Scotland hasn’t voted Tory since 1955 and opposed Brexit substantially it can be viewed as having limited influence. It’s why the ability to withdraw your labour remains fundamental.
There are jobs such as the military where union organisation’s precluded and other roles such as the police where industrial action’ restricted. But beyond that it remains the right of an individual to say “no not today, Sir, in conjunction with my colleagues I’m staying out. ” To go beyond that risks imposing a serfdom that the free market devotees such as Hayek once said capitalism was the bulwark to.
The RMT strike next week will be a nuisance to me. I’ll sort my journey out and it’s not as hard as with many. But my sympathies are still with the strikers. Some of the language from UK Ministers about “marxist unions” is Reaganite and entirely unhelpful.
Let’s get some of the facts right. Train drivers are largely members of ASLEF not the RMT. Pejorative comments about drivers swanning about on £55,000 a year don’t apply. In any event why begrudge a driver that, it’s only achieved with considerable overtime. How much should a airline pilot be paid? Who’s going to set the rate and where’s the outrage over bankers bonuses or Sainsbury’s Chief Executive pocketing £3.8 million?
More importantly, RMT members do a multitude of tasks across the rail network. Some are in very technical roles which will be very well remunerated. But many are not highly paid at all. Most earn between £25-30,000, just a little less than the median salary across the country
They too worked through the pandemic as I know from chats through masks on railway platforms. Though there was neither bonus nor claps as I recall. Now as many struggle to heat their homes or provide for their families they want to address the cost of living crisis. Seeking a pay rise that wont match inflation but might at least mitigate growing hardship seems reasonable.
The Government should cease the abuse and negotiate a fair rate of pay. This strike was supported by 9 to 1 in a ballot of 71% of members. Its necessary as the pay offers are derisory. It’s not the strikers but the management I hold responsible for the strike.