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Solidarity with Railroad Workers

Safe and Sustainable Rail

Global Climate Jobs Conference: Strategic Orientation

Support for rail strikes from Just Transition Partnership

By staff - Just Transition Partnership, August 18, 2022

The Just Transition Partnership sends solidarity to RMT, TSSA and ASLEF members taking industrial action to protect their pay, jobs and working conditions, and in the wider fight for a sustainable public transport system run for people and the planet, not private greed. Billions are being cut from our transport system at a time when increasing investment is vital to ensure a fully public, affordable, integrated and sustainable transport system.

Our railways are already being impacted by the effects of climate change, putting additional demands on a stretched workforce providing an essential public service. We need a well-paid transport workforce with secure conditions and it is indefensible to expect transport and other workers to take an effective pay cut as inflation and the costs of energy rise, especially while the profits of oil companies soar.

The UK government is failing on the climate crisis and the cost of living crisis. It has no integrated transport plans, favouring private companies which make vast profits rather than making transport affordable and our air breathable; in Scotland as well as the rest of the UK train and bus services are being cut. These actions are symptomatic of disregard for the concerns of climate, environment and workers.

The solutions to these crises have the same foundations – public investment into decarbonised and high-quality services using both taxation and legal duties on private companies; all delivered by a well-paid, skilled and secure workforce. These things won’t happen without workers in their trade unions organising to defend their wages, their jobs, their future and their rights through the power of collective bargaining. The workers movement and the climate justice movement need to build our collective power if we are to defend our future, that is why we send our solidarity to the workers on strike.

Mick Lynch on the Rail Strikes and Climate Crisis

TSSA calls for public transport fares to be slashed; let’s all do the same!

By Paul Atkin - Greener Jobs Alliance, August 4, 2022

TSSA calls for public transport fares to be slashed – let’s all do the same!

In a sharply worded blog on the TSSA web site, General Secretary Manuel Cortes notes that we have to deal with

two crises running in parallel – the climate … heating up at an unprecedented rate leading to increased extreme weather disasters and …an ever-deepening Tory cost of living crisis, inflation and costs are up, but wages are stagnant

and calls for a sharp cut in public transport fares to reduce costs, fossil fuel use and pollution. 

London IWW Statement of Solidarity with UK Rail Workers

By branch - London IWW, August 1, 2022

The London Branch of the IWW stands with the rail workers in their ongoing dispute. They are fighting not just for themselves, but for us all: as well as their livelihoods, the safety standards of the British rail network are under threat. The government-backed rail operators are attempting to reduce staffing levels on platforms, trains, and tracks in order to drive down wages, which they see simply as an overhead cost. Further, they intend to rehire many workers on zero-hours agency contracts in order to circumnavigate labour rights such as paid leave for holiday, sickness, and parenthood as well as allowing them to dismiss workers without notice or redundancy pay.

The transport industry is one of the few remaining industries in Britain with high union membership. This attempt to break it up by dividing the workforce is a direct attempt to weaken the unions, and the labour movement as a whole.

On top of it all, comes a slap in the face: during this period of exaggerated cost of living, and while the shareholders take home millions in profit, they are offering the workers that they aren’t trying to sack a real-terms pay cut.

However, the workers are standing strong: in the face of an endless torrent of vitriol from the British government and press, they are taking every opportunity to expose the inequalities and injustice that they face. Members of our branch have been proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with these workers on the picket lines, and we will continue to offer our support until the dispute is won. As long as we continue to stand together, we can tip the balance in the favour of workers around the world.

Mutual aid is the currency of solidarity; direct support for the striking worker is crucial to their success. As such, the IWW London branch are setting a budget to allow members to donate food and drinks to workers on the picket lines, and we encourage any members or supporters with the means to make a donation to the strike funds.

The momentum of the union movement is growing once again in Britain after half a century of targeted assault. Public support is on the rise, and workers in unions across the country are balloting to take action and stand up for their rights and their dignity. The doubling-down on anti-union rhetoric by the government and press is evidence that they are aware of the power that a unionised workforce wields, and that they are threatened by it.

The IWW welcomes any and all workers both in and out of employment and of any nation, race, gender, or creed. Together we stand for a fairer world.

Solidarity forever.

Greens must back striking British Airways workers to build the coalition we need for a just transition

By Matthew Hull - Bright Green, July 3, 2022

A quiet revolution is underway. Across two weeks and through three days of industrial action by the RMT trade union, the British public may have rediscovered what it feels like to take the side of organised workers against a recalcitrant UK government.

Amid soaring bills and prices, and with the Tory government steadfastly refusing to put people’s lives before profits, it is easy to understand why sympathy for striking workers is growing.

Of course it would be easy to overstate this case. Trade unionism never left these shores, and the power of militant unions like the RMT has been built up over years of hard organising work.

Equally, it would be presumptuous in the extreme to argue that one still-ongoing dispute could undo decades of neoliberal policies designed to mute and muzzle trade unions.

Nevertheless, something is taking hold. Polls revealed that striking railway workers have the undisputed support of a majority of people in the UK, should they opt for further industrial action. What’s more, that support has grown with every media performance by the RMT’s general secretary Mick Lynch, whose directness and refusal to pander to the nonsense so typical of broadcast media has proved a winning combination.

This progress is precious, and it is our responsibility as trade unionists and the broader Left to preserve and expand it.

For Greens and environmentalists, the response to the RMT strikes so far has an additional, special resonance.

In June, hundreds of environmental justice campaigners joined RMT members on picket lines, raised money for their national dispute fund, and made their public support for the strikes impossible to ignore. This included many Greens across England and Wales, led by the party’s Trade Union Group. The Greens were the only UK parliamentary party to be unambiguously supportive of the RMT’s actions.

Defending and expanding national and municipal railway networks is centrally important to winning a just transition to a zero-carbon economy. Without massively increasing our capacity to move around using collective and sustainable modes of transport, the work of the environmental justice movement is over before it has begun.

In this process, protecting jobs and improving the pay, conditions and security of workers on our railways is key. There can be no just and fair transition to a zero-carbon world without worker empowerment.

Environmental justice campaigners and Greens should take this insight and apply it to workers’ struggles across all
sectors.

Transforming Transportation–from Below

By Jeremy Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, July 2022

People are acting at the local and state level to create jobs, reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and equalize transportation by expanding and electrifying public transit, electrifying cars and trucks, and making it safe to walk and bike. It’s a crucial part of building the Green New Deal from Below.

More than a quarter of greenhouse gases [GHGs) emitted in the US come from transportation – more than from electricity or any other source.[1] Pollution from vehicles causes a significant excess in disease and death in poor communities. Lack of transportation helps keep people in poor communities poor.

Proposals for a Green New Deal include many ways to reduce the climate, health, and inequality effects of a GHG-intensive transportation system. “Transit Oriented Development” (TOD), “smart growth,” and other forms of metropolitan planning reduce climate-and-health threatening emissions while providing more equal access to transportation. Switching from private vehicles to public transit reduces GHG emissions by more than half and substantially reduces the pollution that causes asthma and other devastating health effects in poor communities. Changing from fossil fuel to electric vehicles also greatly reduces emissions. Expanded public transit fights poverty and inequality by providing improved access to good jobs. And expansion of transit itself almost always creates a substantial number of good, often union jobs. Every $1 billion invested in public transit creates more than 50,000 jobs.[2]

Plans for a Green New Deal generally include substantial federal resources to help transform our transportation system.[3] The 2021 “bipartisan” Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provided $20 billion over the next five years for transit projects. But meanwhile, efforts at the community, local, and state level have already started creating jobs reducing transportation pollution – models of what we have called a Green New Deal from Below.[4]

These Green New Deal from Below programs are often characterized by multiple objectives – for example, protecting the global climate, improving local health, providing jobs, and countering inequality. And they often pursue concrete ways to realize multiple goals, such as “transit-oriented development” that builds housing near transit to simultaneously shift travel from cars to public transit and to expand access to jobs and urban amenities for people in low-income communities.

Why Climate campaigners should support the rail unions

By Paul Atkin and Tahir Latif - Greener Jobs Alliance, June 23, 2022

What is the link between climate action and stopping the decline of public transport?

From the RMT: “We want a transport system that operates for the interests of the people, for the needs of society, and our environment – not for private profit”.

This government is failing on the climate crisis. It has no integrated transport plan, is not realising the need to address aviation and motoring and to prioritise public transport. It favours private companies which make vast profits rather than making transport affordable and our air breathable.

Why are our railways being subjected to a ‘managed decline’ just when we need them the most?

From the TUC “Network Rail plans to cut annual expenditure by £100 million, mainly through the loss of 2,500 rail maintenance jobs. RMT analysis of Network Rail data finds that this will lead to 670,000 fewer hours of maintenance work annually. Network Rail responsibilities include track maintenance – essential to avoiding fatal accidents like Hatfield, which was the result of the metal tracks fatiguing”. 

The government is committed to following free market ideology, the ‘logic’ of which produces a managed decline of much-needed rail services, imposing a 10% annual cut to the running costs of the railways (and even more on the buses in London, with 20% of services threatened).

Meanwhile £27Bn is planned to be spent on roads. This can only increase car use, with negative effects on air pollution, carbon emissions, congestion, accidents, inhibition of active travel and hitting commuters hard in the pocket while boosting the profits of the fossil fuel companies.

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