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RMT Conference ’19 US workers increasingly believe unions are their ‘protectors,’ delegates hear

WORKERS in the United States increasingly believe that trade unions are the “protectors of working families,” RMT’s conference has heard.

Delegates at the union’s annual conference in Manchester heard from Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) international president John Samuelsen, who discussed the fight of transport workers in the US.

Mr Samuelsen told delegates of the struggle against privatisation in the US where outsourcing companies such as Veolia are attempting to “do a Britain” and take over public services.

He reminded delegates of the 2005 New York City transit strike where transport workers picketed in defence of wages and for improved contractual terms and working conditions.

Mr Samuelsen also discussed workers’ opposition to the automation of New York City’s metro system. He said that it was a “crucial fight” for the union against a “race to the bottom” in workplace conditions.

He discussed the TWU’s opposition against the automation of services in other major US cities and congratulated the RMT in its fight against driver-only operations.

“The one thing the TWU has got in common with the RMT is that we’re always fighting somebody,” he joked.

Mr Samuelsen told delegates of the TWU’s successful attempts to organise flight attendants working for the JetBlue travel company, who voted by over two-thirds to unionise last year.

He also criticised US President Donald Trump, saying: “Some of my members will criticise me for this, but it is clear that Trump has an anti-worker record.”

He claimed that Mr Trump’s attacks on living conditions have changed the attitudes of many workers in the US. “A positive outcome of [his presidency] is that workers in the States know that the trade union movement is the protector of working families,” he said.

“However it is mainstream Democrats who are attacking our workers’ living standards across the country.

“[Presidential candidate] Bernie Sanders is so far from the Democratic establishment that he represents a real change from these people.”

He told delegates: “We need the fightback against the bosses.

“We are preparing to strike against automation and we have to fight before they replace us with the robots.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash gave Mr Samuelson a box of Yorkshire Tea as a gift for visiting conference.

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