Ever since the RMT announced a mighty three days of strike action on the railway lines the press has gone into overdrive in condemnation, followed by its loyal social media echo chamber. The regular lines are dusted off by miserable complainers from Falmouth to Aberdeen. “It should be illegal” … “the strikers are selfish” …
Of course not a single solitary one of these settee screamers has cast their memory – usually so sharp and rose tinted – back a year to the episode of these same track workers putting their lives on the line to keep people moving at the pandemic’s height. None of them have spared a thought for these track workers continuing to work when, after the mask mandate was lifted, today’s “strikers are selfish” gum-flappers cast away face coverings and went back to sneezing and spluttering over tubes and trains with gay abandon.
How many of these defenders of the public good, when £4 billion of funding was cut from National Rail and TfL, stood up to defend the men and women they now accuse of selfishness? While job cuts were announced, safety inspections were removed, railway workers’ pensions were attacked, ticket offices were closed and pay was cut, again, where were these animated expressions of wrath?
The answer is of course nowhere. The people who today whine and demand the repression of union activity offered nothing to support the workers whose better natures they now call on to save them from three days of inconvenience.
They vent their spleen that they aren’t considered in the calculations of the union – even though they very much have been. Trade unionists are, in the face of these constant barbs, being soft as they can be while standing up for their rights when no-one else will. One day on, one day off and three days in total with so much warning you could re-book your ticket three times over is no wildcat general strike.
But the reality of what the press and their patsies are complaining about is not whether the strikes are worthwhile, or well planned, or even disruptive. What really exercises these people is the audacity of a union, in 2022, impacting in any way at all on business as usual. It’s the same phenomenon which has driven such utter fury towards Just Stop Oil, or the slow walkers against fracking, or the tunnel diggers against HS2. All of which are non-violent and undertaken with the strongest of moral cases behind them, all of which are to be made illegal.
These are people who refuse to do as they are told and accept whatever outrages are perpetrated upon them. That’s the heart of the matter. It’s a concept which is now so alien to British elites and their loyalist wing of the general public that the act of refusal itself creates a visceral hatred. The idea of telling your
lord and master boss “no” sets off a simmering fury that is understandable from the ruling class, masking little more than fear that their control is being challenged. But it’s shameful from working class people. A crab-bucket mentality that sees those who stand proud and tall in comparison to their own abject, bowed frame, and writhes in shame. In the minds of such scabrous weaklings everyone should, like them, be a supplicant to their betters, crawling and begging.
For the wretches who our ruling class stand upon, who defend their own subjugation, there is only the freedom to do as you’re told. And it is no freedom at all.
Win or lose, the trade unionists of the RMT are at this moment showing a dignity and strength that their critics can only dream of.
Pic: Guy Smallman