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National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT)

Rail Privatisation: 30 years of waste and rising fares

By staff - National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), November 5, 2023

As Britain ‘celebrates’ 30 years of rail privatisation, RMT reveals that the three-decade debacle has seen at least £31 billion leak out of the system, mostly into shareholders pockets, while passengers are paying 8% more in real terms to travel on a deteriorating system.

  • Renationalising the railway and creating a single, integrated publicly owned railway company would save around £1.5 billion every year which could be used to cut fares by 18%, helping to encourage more people back onto Britain’s railways.
  • At least £1.5 billion and very likely more leaks out of Britain’s railways every year in the form of profits extracted by train operating companies, rolling stock leasing companies, subcontractors and other costs that arise the fragmentation of the railways.1 Throughout privatisation, the annual outflow of funds would have enabled, on average, a cut of 14% in fares (Table 1.)
  • If the railways were nationalised now and the flow of funds into the private sector was cut off, the money saved would fund a cut of 18% in fares.
  • The cost of travelling by rail is now almost 8% higher in real terms than it was in 1995, before privatisation. This figure has dropped in the last two years only as inflation as risen above 13%. Until the cost-of-living crisis, when fare increases were decoupled from RPI inflation, fares were consistently 15-20% higher in real terms than before privatisation.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Climate Justice in the North Sea

RMT slams government plans for longer lorries

By staff - National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, May 10, 2023

LOGISTICS UNION RMT slammed the government over plans to permit longer lorries to travel on UK roads despite the climate emergency and the managed decline of rail. There have also been widespread warnings that the move will increase the number of fatal road accidents.

Under government plans the lorries will be a maximum of 2.05 metres longer than the current standard sized trailer meaning lorries over 18.5 metres in length. 

The longer lorries have been trialled since 2011 and there are about 3,000 already on the roads, but from May 31 any business in England, Scotland or Wales will be able to use them.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said that it was completely baffling that the government had made the announcement on longer lorries despite the fact that the climate emergency was accelerating and the increasingly obvious managed decline of the rail including the freight sector. 

“Rail freight is the most sustainable and environmentally friendly way to move freight but instead over recent years what we are seeing on our railways is cutting investment, slashing services and staff numbers, scrapping and downgrading vital infrastructure projects and rewarding failed private train operators with lucrative contract extensions. 

“If this government was serious about tackling the climate emergency, they would recognise the critical importance of rail freight to reducing carbon emissions and commit to a historic mass investment in this sector to ensure the UK meets its legally binding climate targets,” he said.

Daniel Randall RMT at the XRTU Hub, The Big One

Union leaders call for new investment to meet net-zero targets

By staff - Morning Star, April 12, 2023

UNION leaders are calling for new investment to meet net-zero targets, saying it would create high-quality jobs in transport and manufacturing.

The TUC has set out an investment plan for public transport across England and Wales, arguing it would improve quality of life and boost the economy.

The union organisation says its proposals fill a gaping hole in the government’s recently published net-zero strategy, which it claims fails to explain how it will achieve a shift away from car use.

The TUC says its plan would require an average of £9.9 billion in annual capital expenditure up to 2035.

Extra operating costs for expanded bus, tram and rail services would reach £18.8bn a year by 2030, its report, published today, says.

The plan is estimated to boost annual economic growth by £52.1bn by 2030 through productivity gains, creating 140,000 jobs in the bus, tram, and rail sectors.

A further 830,000 jobs would be created in manufacturing, construction, and infrastructure for buses and trams up to 2035, says the TUC.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “Everyone knows that we have to cut carbon emissions and that switching to public transport is a big part of how do it.

“Investing in public transport will help us meet net-zero targets and reduce the threat of catastrophic climate change, and it creates jobs throughout England and Wales, boosts the economy in every community and improves everyone’s quality of life.

“Commuters will have faster and cheaper journeys to work. New connections will bring new businesses to places where people need economic opportunities.

“We will save lives with cleaner air, and we will reduce loneliness and isolation by making everyone better connected, wherever you live.

“With this report, we’ve done the work that Conservative ministers should have done with their empty and incompetent net-zero strategy.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch, who will be speaking at the launch of the report today, said it shows that investing in public transport is vital for fighting climate change and delivering significant economic and social benefits.

He said: “This report shows that there is an alternative where we can expand and invest in our transport infrastructure.

“It is therefore vital that bus and rail services all run as a public service under a public ownership model which is free from profit-hungry multimillion-pound private companies.”

RMT welcomes public transport and climate report

By staff - National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), April 12, 2023

RMT responds to TUC transport and climate change report.

Responding to the TUC Public Transport for the Climate Emergency report, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "This is a welcome report that shows investing in public transport is not only vital for fighting climate change but that it will deliver significant economic and social benefits for everyone.

"The government - in league with private transport operators, are ideologically committed to securing the maximum profit for shareholders. This approach is leading to the managed decline of rail and bus services across the country.

"This report shows that there is an alternative where we can expand and invest in our transport infrastructure. This will create thousands of jobs in across every region of England and Wales, helping build strong local economies and at the same time, secure an environmentally sustainable future.

"It is therefore vital that bus and rail services all run as public service under a public ownership model which is free from profit hungry multimillion pound private companies."

The full report can be viewed here.

Public transport fit for the climate emergency: More services, more jobs, less emissions

By Liz Blackshaw; Gareth Forest; Kamaljeet Gill, et. al. - Trades Union Congress (TUC), April 11, 2023

Public transport has a vital role to play in decarbonising our economy and safeguarding a planet fit for our children and grandchildren to live in. Improving our public transport is not only about protecting our environment, it’s also about the quality of life in communities all over England and Wales.

Decent public transport is essential for access to work across the economy, it also means that grandparents get to see their grandkids, and working parents get home earlier to spend time with their children, we call get to share in culture and entertainment. It means that teenagers can get to school and adult learners can access training that can transform lives. It means people on low incomes can visit town centre shops, and businesses can get the customers they need to reinvigorate local economies.

For too long, people have had to put up with inadequate services. All too often, buses are expensive and infrequent, with routes that get cut because the private providers are driven more by private profit than by a public service ethos. Train services are expensive and chaotic, with services frequently delayed – when they’re not cancelled at short notice due to staffing levels cut to the bone and maintenance services outsourced and short-staffed. The transport workforce has suffered alongside passengers. Years of frozen pay and attacks on terms and conditions are a poor reward for those on the frontline during the pandemic.

Public transport fit for the climate emergency sets out a plan for the investment in public transport throughout England and Wales that has long been needed. From town and cities, to villages and rural communities, this plan would mean more services, new routes, cheaper fares and modern fleets of low emission vehicles. This radical transformation must be funded by central government and delivered by local and regional transport authorities. And we should all get a say on the transport needs where we live and how this investment is allocated.

Passengers, local communities, and transport workers should all be consulted on public transport improvement plans where they live and work.

The investment proposed by this report would achieve the transition to low-carbon transport needed to honour our climate action agreements with the rest of the world. It would generate green and sustainable economic growth in regions across England and Wales. And it would directly create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the transport sector, plus many more in construction and manufacturing supply chains. As well as cheaper, more extensive and reliable buses, trams and trains, we would have cleaner air to breath. And the roads would be less congested for all road users.

To make sure that every community benefits as fully as possible, with ongoing investment and the best value fares, our public transport should be publicly owned.

The climate emergency means we must act. But the benefits of affordable, reliable and extensive public transport are so great that we should want to anyway – for the lower cost of living and higher quality of life it will bring. This report lays out the blueprint for 21st century public transport, all that’s left is to build it.

Download a copy of this publication here (link).

RMT demands stronger workers’ rights on offshore wind farms

By staff - National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), April 5, 2023

OFFSHORE union RMT today demanded trade union rights and fair pay in the Offshore Wind industry following an independent report by the UK government’s Offshore Wind Champion Tim Pick.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said that it was disappointing that trade unions were not consulted as part of the report, especially as it acknowledges the importance of a just transition to the 50,000 jobs which are expected to be lost from the oil and gas industry by 2030.

“RMT is calling for mandatory collective bargaining in the offshore wind supply chain for fixed and floating projects, including in low tax low regulation Freeports where the government intend much of this accelerated offshore wind activity to take place.

“However, we welcome the recognition of the delay in skills passporting for our offshore members, the move away from voluntary local content targets and the linking of seabed leasing rights to supply chain development, which could be funded out of Crown Estates’ profits. 

“The recognition of the advantage gained in the US and EU by massive subsidy commitment to green energy is also significant but we need some reality to prevail over the damaging effects of government policy to date on increasing jobs, safety and skills across the offshore wind supply chain.

“For example, crew in the offshore wind supply chain can be paid below the national minimum wage to work at sea for months on end and that needs to change fast,” he said.

Offshore energy workers call for public ownership in UK’s net-zero carbon transition

By Alex Lawson - The Guardian, March 6, 2023

Coalition of workers, unions and climate campaigners aims to safeguard shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources.

Workers in the UK’s offshore oil, gas and renewables sector have called for public ownership of energy companies to ensure that the country’s transition to net zero protects jobs, communities and the environment.

The call comes amid a series of demands to government from a coalition of offshore workers, unions and climate campaigners that aim to shift the industry from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources.

A survey of 1,092 offshore workers for the wide-ranging report, Our Power: Offshore Workers, found that 90% of respondents backed its demands, which also include: government-backed jobs guarantees; an offshore training passport that supports workers to retrain in the renewables sector; a commitment to incentivise investment in ports and factories making products such as wind turbines; and equal pay for migrant workers.

Concerns are growing over the pace of Britain’s transition away from fossil fuels and its ability to create green jobs in manufacturing, production and operations. Data from the consultancy PwC shows the number of jobs being created in the renewable energy industry is growing four times faster than the overall UK employment market. But more than one-third of these roles are based in London and the south-east, particularly in professional and scientific roles.

The report argues that public ownership of energy firms would help to ensure a “just energy transition” offering greater job security and conditions. It paints a picture of long stints at sea and low pay in the face of the cost of living crisis, with British workers paid three times as much as migrant staff.

Major reform needed to secure ‘just’ green transition for offshore workers

By staff - Morning Star, March 6, 2023

INVESTMENT and reform of the energy sector are needed to secure a just green transition for offshore workers, unions and environmental campaigners are warning today.

A new report by transport union RMT, Friends of the Earth and others demands investment in ports and manufacturing as well as an offshore training passport for oil and gas workers moving to the renewables sector.

Offshore migrant workers must also get equal pay and a higher minimum wage should be available to all, the groups added.

RMT regional organiser Jake Molloy stressed employees must be “fully engaged and empowered in the process if we are to achieve a real just transition.”

“The lack of a real plan from politicians and industry is fuelling workforce discontent and disillusionment,” he said.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Mary Church said: “Our current energy system is destroying our climate, is unaffordable to millions and is failing the people who work in it.

“Failure from politicians to properly plan and support the transition to renewables is leaving workers totally adrift on the whims of oil and gas companies, and the planet to burn.”

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