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Unique interview with rail union leaders on the Tories’ ‘managed decline’ of the railways

Becoming a member of campaigners at a march and rally towards ticket workplace closures outdoors Downing Avenue on Thursday night had been the final secretaries for 2 of the UK’s largest rail unions, the 2 Micks.

Left Foot Ahead caught up individually with ASLEF basic secretary Mick Whelan and RMT basic secretary Mick Lynch to debate authorities assaults on the business and the essential struggle to cease ticket offic closures.

“That is the worst Transport Minister and Rail Minister I’ve ever handled in my life,” commented Mick Whelan. “However on the finish of this, the employees will nonetheless be right here, the touring public will nonetheless be right here, and we could have our say.”

His ASLEF union members are on strike once more right now within the ongoing dispute over pay and situations for prepare drivers who’ve been denied a ‘honest and wise pay supply’ since 2019. Whelan blasted the federal government, who he accused of looking for to place folks ‘again into their vehicles’ by ‘the managed decline’ of the business.

“We’ve Tories that wish to put this business to managed decline and drive folks away from the railways, again into their vehicles,” mentioned Whelan.

“They don’t care in regards to the individuals who journey on the railway or the individuals who work on the railway. Be below no illusions. They care in regards to the people who they put in there to make tons of of thousands and thousands of kilos and pay their shareholders.”

Mick Lynch of the RMT union echoed this sentiment and warned the federal government towards being on the mistaken facet of historical past when it got here to ticket workplace closures.

“This authorities has obtained to ensure that they’re not on the mistaken facet of this argument. In the meanwhile, they’re. They’re attempting to drive by modifications that no person desires,” mentioned Lynch.

Half one million folks have now responded to the general public marketing consultant on plans to close ticket places of work at almost 1,000 rail stations throughout the nation which has been blasted by campaigners, unions and MPs throughout the political spectrum.

“Political teams, group teams, disabled teams, ladies’s teams—everyone is up in arms,” mirrored Lynch. “The marketing campaign doesn’t cease tomorrow. We’ll preserve that going and we’re going to place each MP and each politician within the nation below strain to avoid wasting our railway.”

Lynch additionally made an impassioned name for a ‘new staff’ motion’, which might search to hitch up completely different campaigns with commerce unions and progressive politicians to struggle for equality, resembling on the rally that night which noticed completely different actions coming collectively.

“We’ve obtained to be with everybody that’s campaigning to have their voices heard,” mentioned Lynch.

“That features youth wants, housing wants, the kind of jobs that persons are going to have going ahead, apprenticeships, and all these exploitative employment fashions, all of that stuff is all a part of one agenda.

“Whose facet are you on? Are you listening to the folks which are struggling for his or her futures, that wish to be housed correctly, that need clear water to swim in and drink, that care in regards to the atmosphere and the air that they breathe?”

And the plain begin for making a group the place everybody feels ‘valued and included’, begins with transport argued Lynch.

“Getting out of your own home, taking part in your half in society, and in your group is a extremely essential factor.

“So we want a very good worth railway the place folks can afford to journey, and are assured a community from their house station to the interchange factors, to their vacation spot, the place they’re going to get any help and accessibility wants addressed.

“It’s not about cash for us, there’s no pay deal on this for us. It’s about our passengers and the communities that we’re part of.”

The federal government and prepare firms declare the ticket workplace closures are a transfer to ‘modernise’ the rail business through the use of digital tickets. While additionally admitting that the effects could be devastating for susceptible passengers.

Whelan slammed the argument that the federal government had the pursuits for the way forward for the business at coronary heart.

“We’re not the saboteurs they put us out to be,” argued Whelan. “However they (the federal government) haven’t any plans to put money into our railway.

“We won’t have a digital railway in my lifetime or presumably the subsequent 40 or 50 years.

“They’re doing a bit of bit on the East Coast. The subsequent undertaking they’ve obtained is Warrington. That’s hardly joined up considering, so there’ll be many years earlier than we’ve got a digital railway that modifications the face of our railway and provides the capability that we have to be the inexperienced railway in an built-in transport system.

“However earlier than we do this, we’ve got to have folks feeling assured that they’ll journey safely and what they’re doing at the moment with ticket places of work – my folks don’t really feel secure touring, so how would anyone else?”

Rail strikes

Prepare drivers’ from ASLEF union are on strike right now, Friday, for twenty-four hours adopted by an extra time ban on Saturday 2 September, which can coincide with a strike by as much as 20,000 RMT members. Each concern long-running disputes over pay and situations.

“These aren’t Mick Whelan strikes. These are strikes voted for by 92% to 99% of our members, for the fourth or fifth time,” commented Whelan forward of the economic motion.

“There is no such thing as a waning within the help for the strikes or motion in need of a strike. Our folks desire a pay rise, they wish to struggle for his or her futures, they don’t wish to lose their situations. And I’m proud to symbolize them.”

Hannah Davenport is information reporter at Left Foot Ahead, specializing in commerce unions and environmental points

The put up Exclusive interview with rail union leaders on the Tories’ ‘managed decline’ of the railways appeared first on Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK's progressive debate.