Shipley Train Station on Christmas Day. Photo: Stephen Armstrong Shipley Train Station on Christmas Day. Photo: Stephen Armstrong

The rail unions are going on strike this Christmas, but Lindsey German argues that this is the government’s fault, not the workers’

1 The rail unions are striking over pay and conditions. Pay deals offered are 4% for each of two years which means a substantial pay cut when inflation at over 12% RPI and food inflation over 16%

2 If they win their claim that will help raise the wages of other workers as they will follow through with their own claims. The government is trying to scupper a deal because it knows this.

3 The unions are also fighting to stop further job cuts on the railways. They want to keep guards on trains and staff on stations.

4 This is a major question of safety obviously on the trains themselves but also in stations where isolated platforms and buildings are dangerous for women in particular.

5 Companies that charge exorbitant prices are refusing to provide staff who would help disabled and elderly, those with children, and give helpful advice and support to all passengers.

6 It is the companies and government who want us to put up with ticket machines, disembodied Tannoy announcements and locked waiting rooms – not the unions.

7 The railways always shut for two days at Xmas and run down services on Xmas Eve. That causes people a lot of inconvenience- but again this is the companies’ decision not the unions’.

8 So if people miss the Boxing Day sales or sports events this isn’t because of the strikes – they would never have travelled to them by train anyway.

9 The main reason many won’t travel by train around Xmas is the exorbitant cost of even off-peak trains.

10 The government wants to run down the railways and blame the workers. We shouldn’t believe anything the Tories or their lickspittle media say. Solidarity with the strikers.

Lindsey German

As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.

Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.

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