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RMT conference: Rail workers told to prepare to fight ‘storm of job cuts’

by Peter Lazenby in Leeds

RAIL workers were told to prepare to fight a “storm of job cuts” and attacks on pay, conditions and pensions at the annual conference of transport union RMT in Leeds today.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the government would seek to recoup the billions spent paying for the Covid-19 pandemic by attacking the very people who helped the UK get through it, including transport workers.

In his keynote speech to conference, he said that workplaces should be prepared for government attacks, coupled with the determination of rail and bus privateers to maintain their profits as taxpayer subsidies are withdrawn.

“All the employers and all of the politicians want to use the Covid health crisis as a means to make permanent detrimental attacks on our members and our union,” he said. 

“We will not pay that price and we will be in the forefront of the workers’ fightback.”

He said that spending billions of taxpayers’ money fighting Covid-19 “had to be done.”

“But much of it was wasted and people lost their lives through the stupidity, ineptitude and incompetence of this government,” he said.

“But working people should not be passive and settle the bill for Johnson and his friends. We must be ready to fight off any attacks.”

Mr Lynch said that projected cuts planned by the government were “frightening.”

“They want the Rail Industry Recovery Group and Transport for London to deliver billions of cuts via shrinkages to jobs, wages, conditions and pensions,” he said.

The numbers affecting the rail industry alone, at £2-5 billion, were frightening, he said.

“I believe a storm is coming and we have to prepare for it,” he said.

Mr Lynch said that to do so the union had to turn to the workplace.

“RMT has to be ready and able to take up the many challenges, able to fend off the attack, and to defend our members, their livelihoods, their pay, conditions and pensions,” he said.

“But also, to be able to go on the front foot — to take our campaigns to the bosses, to the authorities, the governments, the politicians, and to the workplace.”

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