By Laurence Humphries, 22 July 2022, www.thecommunists.net
The RMT, ASLEF and the TSSA announced further dates for strikes on the British Rail Network. The RMT is going to strike for 24 hours on the 18th and 20th August. ASLEF will strike on the 23rd July and the 30th July.
“RMT will take a further 2 days strike action this summer in a row over job security, pay and working conditions. The strikes on August 18 and 20 will bring out over 40,000 workers across Network Rail and 14 train operating companies. RMT is also taking 24 hours strike action on 27 July. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "The rail industry and the government need to understand that this dispute will not simply vanish. "They need to get serious about providing an offer on pay which helps deal with the cost-of-living crisis, job security for our members and provides good conditions at work”.
“ASLEF members at eight train companies have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in a dispute over pay. ‘Strikes are always the last resort,’ said Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union. ‘We don’t want to inconvenience passengers – our friends and families use public transport, too – and we don’t want to lose money by going on strike but we’ve been forced into this position by the companies driven by the government. ‘Many of our members – who were, you will remember, the men and women who moved key workers and goods around the country during the pandemic – have not had a pay rise since 2019. ‘With inflation running at north of 10% that means those drivers have had a real terms pay cut over the last three years. We want an increase in line with the cost of living – we want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021” .
Other trade unions in the public sector have also been offered wage increases well below the rate of inflation. Firefighters in the FBU have been offered 2% when inflation is raging at 11-13%. Most of these Rail companies have made enormous profits and continue to refuse to offer decent salaries coupled with cost-of-living increases. Many other unions in the public sector like teachers, health workers, nurses and doctors are likely to strike and reject the 5% pay increase which is well below the inflation rate.
Unite at Heathrow as well as its members in the post office are also likely to strike during the summer. The new Prime Minister whoever they are will face a summer of social and political unrest.
“The result of this is that the Executive Council has voted unanimously to reject the 2% pay offer. The employers will now be informed of this. Furthermore, the Executive Council has agreed that plans should be urgently prepared to develop our campaign for decent pay, including the need to prepare for strike action. All FBU members are asked to fully participate in such discussions; all voices need to be heard. Firefighters have never taken industrial action lightly but nor can we allow this pay insult to pass without challenge. The employers' proposal would mean a further cut to our real wages and further hardship for our members and their families. That is unacceptable in the face of the cost of living crisis”. 
Crisis of capitalism
The fall of the Boris Johnson government, as has been argued before, is the result of the worldwide crisis of capitalism. In many parts of the world the masses are on the streets fighting for their rights. In Sri Lanka, the workers and popular masses have driven out a reactionary government, opening up a revolutionary situation. In Ecuador, people launched a general strike which transformed into an uprisings. This is the result of the capitalist system in its death throes.
Grant Schapps, the Transport Secretary, has alleged workers are making excessive wage demands which are the cause of inflation. Many bosses in energy companies are being paid big bonuses but Schapps doesn’t mention that and for good reason. His assertion about excessive wage demands being the result of runaway inflation is false.
Karl Marx in his pamphlet “Prices, Wages and Profit” showed that what the capitalists refer to as profit is nothing more than surplus value. Surplus value is the difference between the value of what living labour produces, the worker in production and value paid by the capitalist in the form of wages. But only a proportion is paid, the rest is retained by the capitalist and that is referred in bourgeois circles as profit but it is the worker who produces the value and under socialism the capitalist would be redundant and not be needed.
“Value created by the unpaid labour of wage workers, over and above the value of their labour power, and appropriated without compensation by the capitalist. Surplus value is a specific expression of the capitalist form of exploitation, in which the surplus product takes the form of surplus value. The production and appropriation of surplus value constitute the essence of the fundamental economic law of capitalism. K. Marx pointed out that “production of surplus value is the absolute law” of the capitalist mode of production. This law reflects not only the economic relations between capitalists and wage workers but also the economic relations between various groups of the bourgeoisie— industrialists, merchants, and bankers— and between them and the landowners. The pursuit of surplus value plays the chief role in the development of the productive forces under capitalism and determines and channels the development of production relations in capitalist society. The doctrine of surplus value, which Lenin called “the cornerstone of Marx’ economic theory”. .
This shows that in the period of the crisis the capitalist has to continue to peddle the lie about wages causing inflation. This is done because the system has outlived its usefulness, cannot provide any sort of existence for workers and the masses. The alternative is to sweep the system away and struggle to establish Socialism
The Response of the TUC and Keir Starmer
The TUC, which is the umbrella organisation of all Trade Unions in Britain, has not uttered anything about the dispute. It remains a gutless bureaucratic machine and carrying out the wishes of the Government. As Lenin said they are ‘Labour Lieutenants of Capital’. Keir Starmer, the pro-capitalist leader of the Labour Party, has uttered nothing on the Rail Dispute except to denounce left-wing Labour MP’s who attempt to join a picket line. He has in fact threatened expulsion from the Labour Party to any Labour MP who does this. This is similar position he has taken on the Ukraine War threatening any Labour MP who does not support NATO, the pro-imperialist alliance. Starmer has crossed the Rubicon and now the Labour Party under his leadership is undermining massively the historic links that bound them to the trade unions, thereby working towards losing its status as a ‘bourgeois workers party’.
For a program of struggle!
The RCIT in Britain puts forward the following transitional demands in the current situation.
* For a sliding scale of wage increases for workers, the poor and oppressed in line with the rate of inflation.
* Cancel all energy increases. Immediate increases for the unemployed. Increase all benefits in line with inflation.
* Nationalise all capitalist corporations under workers control with no compensation. For a public works program under control of the labour movement.
* For continuous strike action in all sectors including the railways, firefighters, education and the NHS. Unite the struggles toward a general strike! Down with the Anti-Union Laws.
* Rank and file committees must be formed in the trade unions to organise the fightback. They must aim at involving not just members in trade unions but all the oppressed and poor. Pressure must be put on the TUC to organise the struggles.
* The Johnson government has fallen, and this must give a great impetus to the masses and the oppressed to bring down the corrupt Tory government by a general strike.
* For a Workers Government based on councils of action and armed self-defence guards.
* Create armed self-defence guards to protect communities from police and fascist provocation.