Ian Lavery column: ‘No worker should have to join the line for food banks’

This past week has seen a number of days of strike action on our railways held by the RMT over a dispute over years of pay freezes, safety concerns and the threat of mass redundancies of rail workers.

By Andrew Coulson
Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 3:40 pm
Ian Lavery has been supporting the RMT at picket lines across Northumberland, including Berwick Railway Station.
Ian Lavery has been supporting the RMT at picket lines across Northumberland, including Berwick Railway Station.

This included workers in my constituency in Wansbeck, who set up a picket line at Morpeth train station. I have also supported the RMT elsewhere in Northumberland.

Understandably, this caused frustration amongst passengers who have faced widespread disruption over three days, which may have affected their travel or work plans, and this is indeed regrettable.

But it would be wrong to blame the rail workers who are on strike for this disruption.

Despite being applauded as heroes throughout the pandemic, rail workers are facing another year of pay freezes while inflation and the cost of living continue to soar, effectively becoming a hefty pay cut.

In the meantime, rail companies have paid out hundreds of millions in dividends to their shareholders as the rich continue to get richer.

The Tory party and right wing press have been keen to resort to the age old tactic of divide and rule, pitting worker against worker while all the time ignoring the mismanagement of our economy by the country’s political and financial leaders who have made this industrial action necessary.

The reality is we have seen over a decade of stagnant wages, which is completely unprecedented in the post-war era. All the while, inflation and the cost of living have shot up, leaving workers worse off than before.

Yet at the same time, the richest in our society have amassed unimaginable fortunes, in particular during the pandemic.

The level of wealth and power now held by so few in society is a recipe for social, political and economic disaster if not addressed soon.

And if our Government won’t address these issue, then it is up to the workers to organise to address it themselves.

No worker should have to join the line for food banks or benefits while the ultra-rich continue to line their pockets on the back of their hard work.

That is why my full support is behind the RMT and all their members fighting for a better deal – not just for themselves, but for all working people up and down the country.