UK rail strikes: Commuters THANK Mick Lynch for WFH
Commuters today thanked left-wing militant Mick Lynch for unleashing yet another round of rail strikes which has forced them to WFH – as more than 45,000 workers go on strike amid mounting fears of a general strike this winter that could deliver a hammerblow to the UK’s already teetering economy.
Train companies have slashed their services by a fifth today as thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) and Unite hit picket lines up and down the country in a grinding dispute over pay and working conditions.
The latest wave of industrial action – which will see services finish as early as 6.30pm tonight and Saturday – is set to cause four days of travel hell for students getting their A-level results today, as well as holidaymakers and sports and music spectators.
But many workers are celebrating the rail strike, claiming it is a welcome break from early starts and paying for ever more expensive commuting. Some on Twitter even said they would be able to enjoy the sunshine as the heatwave which has been scorching Britain this summer starts to taper off – and could even watch football while they work.
And in a sign that the 1970s-style strikes are not causing despair among commuters, live traffic data shows that the roads are largely unchanged compared to last week. Figures provided by TomTom indicate that congestion in London at 9am today is just three percentage points higher than the same time last week – up to 39% from 36%. In the same time period, congestion levels in Birmingham, Manchester and Cardiff are 29%, 31% and 26% respectively – up slightly from 24%, 29% and 24%.
‘Fat cat firebrand’ Mr Lynch – who has compared himself to Margaret Thatcher’s Communist arch-rival Arthur Scargill, declared class war at a protest in Westminster and called for a general strike if Liz Truss is elected Prime Minister next month – today vowed to unleash successive waves of mass industrial action until the unions reach a negotiated settlement with Network Rail.
Standing on a picket line outside Euston station alongside Jeremy Corbyn, and pictured raising a fist in solidarity with striking rail workers, the hardliner branded Transport Secretary Grant Shapps ‘hysterical’ – and swatted away concerns that millions of low-wage workers who have to WFH ‘cannot afford for rail workers to go on strike’ this winter as energy bills are set to rise.
Meanwhile, hard left MPs including Rebecca Long-Bailey continued to defy ‘absent’ leader Keir Starmer’s warning to distance themselves from rail strikes by visiting picket lines – even after Sam Tarry was sacked as a transport minister after he joined a strike in London last month.
Education Secretary James Cleverly accused Mr Lynch and his union comrades of ‘holding the country hostage’ with his strikes, telling Sky News this morning: ‘They’ve got a very very good salary package, they have incredibly good, ridiculously good terms and conditions, and what they’re doing through these strikes, is they are disadvantaging people trying to get to work, trying to put food over the table, trying to keep a roof over their heads.
‘I think Grant Shapps has made it absolutely clear that these strikes are unfair and completely inappropriate, and it’s wrong that people are held hostage by the unions in this way.’
Economists fear that if the unions decide to spark another wave of strikes this winter, just when energy prices are set to surge above £4,000 per year, then millions of households could find themselves in ‘fuel poverty’ – as the country faces the biggest squeeze to living standards in 60 years.
It comes amid a mounting cost of living crisis fuelled by Putin’s savage invasion of Ukraine, as inflation spirals out of control – hitting 10% yesterday and expected to rocket past 13% by this October – and the Bank of England fears a crippling year-long recession from this winter.
EUSTON: RMT chief Mick Lynch stands on a picket line outside Euston station raising a fist with rail workers today
LONDON BRIDGE STATION: Closed before it is due to open late with first National Rail services at 7.30am
WATERLOO: People wait on the concourse at London Waterloo station as the fresh series of rail strikes begin today
Commuters today thanked militant Mick Lynch for unleashing another round of rail strikes by allowing them to WFH
WATERLOO: A woman is seen sleeping on a bench at London Waterloo station this morning
Network Rail issued this map showing the expected services on routes across Britain today and on Saturday
EUSTON: Jeremy Corbyn and Zarah Sultana, MP for Coventry South on the picket line outside Euston station today
MANCHESTER: Hard left Labour MP Rebecca Long-Bailey defiantly joined members of the RMT and TSSA
PETERBOROUGH: Thameslink and Great Northern trains lined up in sidings in Peterborough this morning
BLACKWALL TUNNEL: Traffic queues on the A102(M) Blackwall Tunnel approach at Greenwich in South East London
How will each UK train operator be affected by the latest rail strikes?
UK train operators have released plans for how their services will be altered during this week’s rail strikes. Today and on Saturday, only around a fifth of normal services will run, and half of lines will be shut.
Trains will only operate between 7.30am and 6.30pm on both strike days and will start later than normal on the following mornings. Here is a breakdown of each operator’s plan for today and Saturday:
Avanti West Coast The operator has been running a reduced timetable since Sunday due to many drivers no longer volunteering to work on their rest days for extra pay. On strike days there will be one train per hour in both directions between London Euston and each of Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston. A limited service will operate to Glasgow. Several areas will not be served, such as Blackpool, Edinburgh, North Wales and Shrewsbury.
c2c It will operate fewer than a third of normal services. These will consist of two trains per hour in each direction between London Fenchurch Street and Shoeburyness via Laindon, and the same frequency between London Fenchurch Street and Pitsea via Rainham. No trains will run via Ockendon or Chafford Hundred.
Caledonian Sleeper All departures are cancelled for last night, tonight and Friday night.
Chiltern Railways Today: No trains will run north of Banbury or to/from Oxford station. There will be one train per hour in both directions between London Marylebone and each of Aylesbury via High Wycombe; Banbury; and Oxford Parkway. The same frequency will be in place between Aylesbury Vale Parkway and Amersham. // // Saturday: No trains will run north of High Wycombe or Aylesbury due to the combination of planned engineering work and the strike. There will be two trains per hour in both directions between London Marylebone and High Wycombe, and one per hour between London Marylebone and Aylesbury via Amersham.
CrossCountry Today: No direct services will run between Birmingham and Cambridge, Cardiff, Nottingham, Peterborough and Stansted Airport. A very limited service is planned between Birmingham and Bristol; Edinburgh via Leeds, York and Newcastle; Leicester; Manchester; and Southampton via Reading. // // Saturday: No direct services will run between Birmingham and Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Nottingham, Peterborough and Stansted Airport. A very limited service is planned from Birmingham to Manchester and Southampton, and from Derby to Edinburgh via Leeds, York and Newcastle.
East Midlands Railway Just one train per hour will run in each direction between London St Pancras and each of Nottingham and Sheffield; and between Derby and both Matlock and Nottingham. There will also be one service per hour between Nottingham and Leicester today but not on Saturday. All other routes will be closed.
Gatwick Express Services will be suspended. Passengers travelling to or from Gatwick Airport can use Southern and Thameslink trains.
Grand Central Just three trains in each direction will run between London King’s Cross and both Northallerton and Wakefield Kirkgate.
Great Northern There will be very few trains, with no services east of Ely to King’s Lynn.
Great Western Railway No services will run on many routes, such as all those in Cornwall, branch lines in Devon, between Cardiff and Swansea, and between Bath and Portsmouth.
Greater Anglia On strike days, the company will not run any trains on its regional and branch lines. A very limited service will operate on some routes to and from London Liverpool Street.
Heathrow Express A full service will operate, but only between 7.30am and 6.10pm.
Hull Trains Trains will only run between Doncaster and London King’s Cross, with five in each direction.
London North Eastern Railway Today: Only two trains per hour will operate between Edinburgh and London King’s Cross, and one per hour doing part of the route. Saturday: Only one train per hour will operate between Edinburgh and London King’s Cross, and two per hour doing part of the route.
London Northwestern Railway A limited service will run to and from Birmingham New Street and both Crewe and London Euston. Other routes will be closed.
Lumo A reduced timetable will be in place between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh.
Merseyrail A limited service will operate. No trains will run between Chester and Rock Ferry or Ellesmere Port and Rock Ferry.
Northern Passengers are urged ‘not to travel’ as only a small number of routes will have trains. Routes that will be open include Liverpool to Manchester; Manchester to Alderley Edge; York to Leeds; and Leeds to Sheffield.
ScotRail Trains will only run across the Central Belt, Fife and the Borders.
South Western Railway A ‘severely limited service’ will run, and only between London Waterloo and Basingstoke, Southampton, Windsor and Woking.
Southeastern Only 44 out of 180 stations will be open, with the vast majority of the network in Kent and East Sussex closed. The high-speed route to Ashford International will be open.
Southern Much of the network will be shut down. Services will run on the Brighton Mainline to London Bridge and London Victoria, with additional trains from Tattenham Corner, Epsom Downs, Sutton and West Croydon via Crystal Palace.
Stansted Express Two trains per hour will run between London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport today. Details have not been released for Saturday.
Thameslink There will be far fewer trains than normal. Services will be split north and south, with nothing running between London St Pancras and London Bridge.
TransPennine Express There will only be a very limited service, with just these routes open: Manchester Airport to Preston; Manchester Piccadilly to York; Newcastle to Edinburgh; and Cleethorpes to Sheffield.
Transport for Wales Most lines will be closed. An hourly service will run between Cardiff and Newport, with limited trains elsewhere.
West Midlands Railway A limited service will operate only between Lichfield Trent Valley and Redditch/Bromsgrove via Birmingham New Street; Crewe and Birmingham New Street via Wolverhampton; and Birmingham New Street and London Euston via Northampton.
Mr Lynch declared that the rail strike ‘won’t be broken’ until there is a settlement to the dispute as he refused to put an end date on the industrial action.
The RMT general secretary said: ‘We don’t have a fixed programme – I don’t have a whiteboard saying it starts on this day and it ends on that day. We won’t be broken. We are determined to get a settlement.
‘People have shown on the picket lines they are determined to dig in, we’re not going to waste our members’ efforts.
‘We will take the action that our members want to take as we go along, so we’re not going to be broken. We will continue the fight until we get a settlement.’
He warned that Britain could be brought by a standstill by a wave of strikes hitting ‘every sector of the economy’.
The RMT general secretary stopped short of predicting a general strike, saying: ‘It’s not in my power, it’s up to the TUC.
‘What you are going to get is a wave of solidarity action, generalised strike action, synchronised action.
‘And you’ll see it in every sector of the economy, in education, in health, wider parts of the transport system, in all sectors, the private sector as well.
‘People are fed up with the way they’ve been treated. The British worker is basically underpaid and gets no dignity or respect in the workplace.
‘We’ve got to change that so we get a square deal for everyone in Britain – and that’s what the unions are determined to do.’
He also branded Mr Shapps ‘hysterical’, adding: ‘What I think you’re seeing is a man who’s worried about his future. He’s got to try and flex his right-wing muscles in front of a parade of two really right-wing people who are going to be his boss.
‘So I don’t know what Grant Shapps is up to. I don’t think the employers really know what he’s up to. And I don’t think the officials at the Department for Transport know what he’s up to.
‘Last week he threatened to make everyone redundant on the railway by issuing letters called Section 188 letters. I think he’s lost the plot slightly and he needs to get back on track and enable a settlement to this dispute.’
But Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines argued that an 8% pay rise is a ‘good offer’ – despite it falling short of inflation.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘The harsh challenge we’ve got in the railway system is we’ve only got three sources of funding. The taxpayer will pay more than 50% of the railway, fares or making our system more efficient.’
Challenged that bus operator Arriva has given its workers an 11% pay rise, Mr Haines said: ‘Well… I don’t know Arriva manages but they’re not part of the rail system. It’s a bus company, it’s a private bus company and their funding arrangements will be dealt with locally.
‘The harsh reality is that we only have those sources of funding and therefore, if we’re not going to ask the taxpayer or farepayer for more money, more pay will mean more job cuts, which is why we’ve come up with a balance.
‘Eight percent is a good offer and is supported by job security because what I don’t want is people coming to work with a pay rise but then worried that their job is going to be under threat, because we’ve actually bankrupted the company (by) giving them a pay rise in the short term.
‘What will help them is giving them the chance to vote on what we think is a fair deal and then we will see where this goes from there.’
Mr Lynch claimed the union have been working with Network Rail and the train operating companies but ‘the gap between us is still there’.
‘We’ve got to find a way to bridge that but I fear that because of the political interference that’s happening with the public transport and the Treasury, we’re not able to do that,’ he said.
‘We’ve also got a dispute tomorrow with London Underground – which is more of the same that the funding from the railway has been cut and that means an attack on rail workers across the land and I think many workers are suffering from that at this moment.
‘They’re not getting a square deal but we’ll keep working with the companies to get a negotiated settlement and as soon as we can do that, will put it to our members and hopefully we can get the railway back providing service the that public needs.’
He later added: ‘We will work those problems through but what we need is the management to have the ability to negotiate and I think this has been has been partially caught up in the Tory leadership election or selection process that they’re going through and I think because those candidates have both both taken a turn to the hard right in this country, it’s very difficult to find the the ability to create a settlement.’
However, Network Rail blamed Mr Lynch’s union for the failure to reach a negotiated settlement. Mr Haines, said he does not believe rail workers are ‘clear on what they’re striking for’ and argued that the problem is not with the Government but the RMT union.
He told GMB: ‘We’ve been talking for over 18 months. We started these talks actually with Mick’s predecessor and so there’s no lack of readiness to talk. The issue is there are some fundamental disagreements.
‘Where I have a fundamental disagreement is that I don’t think colleagues are clear on what they’re striking for now,’ he continued.
‘Mick mentioned pensions – that’s not an issue for Network Rail. He mentioned job security – we’ve given a guarantee of a job for every single person in Network Rail who wants a job affected by our proposals.
‘Now we’ve done our very best to meet those sort of issues but the common factor here is the RMT; it’s not the Government.
‘There are strikes on TfL, there are what, 13-14 train operators? Network Rail? All of those issues have been getting trapped together and I think many people striking are not clear. That’s why we think the way to solve this is to put our offer, a very decent fair offer, to a referendum of RMT members. My staff, and I think that’s the way to solve this.’
Also tomorrow, members of the RMT and Unite on London Underground will walk out, as well as Unite members on London United bus routes in the capital in a separate dispute over pay.
On Saturday, RMT members at Network Rail and 14 train operators, TSSA members at seven companies, and Unite members at Network Rail will strike again, along with London United bus drivers.
Sunday morning train services will be affected by the knock-on effect of Saturday’s action.
Rough and tumble of politics? Corbyn sports black eye as he blasts Starmer for sacking Labour frontbencher after he visited picket line
Jeremy Corbyn, sporting split lip and black eye outside London’s Euston station
Jeremy Corbyn blasted Keir Starmer’s sacking of a shadow transport minister for giving interviews from a picket line last month.
Speaking from a picket line outside London’s Euston station alongside RMT firebrand Mick Lynch, the former Labour leader said Sam Tarry’s treatment was ‘very unfair’.
Mr Corbyn – who was ousted from Labour by Sir Keir in a bid to root out the influence of the hard left on the party – said: ‘Sam is a trade union person like me, he used to work for the TSSA, he went on a picket line to support his union and his members.
‘I think to dismiss him from his shadow position was very unfair.’
He told Mr Tarry after his sacking that he was ‘very sorry because he was doing a very good job, he was trying to develop a… much better national transport strategy’.
Mr Corbyn also revealed that he suffered a split lip and black eye by tripping over a tree root while out jogging yesterday.
Rail services on Thursday and Saturday will be drastically reduced, with only around a fifth running, and half of lines closed.
Trains will only operate between 7.30am and 6.30pm on both strike days, and picket lines will be mounted outside railway stations across the country.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: ‘Yet again, for the sixth time since June, union leaders are opting to inflict misery and disrupt the day-to-day lives of millions instead of working with industry to agree a deal that will bring our railways into the 21st century.
‘Today, thousands of A-level students across the country, many of whom have spent the majority of their college years studying at home due to the pandemic, are now being denied the chance to celebrate their hard work and dedication face to face with peers and teachers.
‘It’s clear strikes are not the powerful tool they once were and union chiefs are no longer able to bring the country to a standstill as, unlike them, the world has changed and people simply work from home.
‘All these strikes are doing is hurting those people the unions claim to represent, many of whom will again be out of pocket and forced to miss a day’s work.
‘We urge union bosses to do the right thing by their members and let them have their say on Network Rail’s very fair deal, which will deliver the reforms our rail system urgently needs.
‘It’s time to get off the picket lines and back around the negotiating table – the future of our railway depends on it.’
It comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps unveiled a 16-point plan to tackle strikes, with the Mail reporting that such a plan could include ending a ban on the Government using emergency powers to stop strikes if they could create a ‘national emergency’.
The Transport Secretary himself tweeted: ‘It cannot be right for the country to be held to ransom by Union bosses seeking to protect outdated work practices that have no place in the 21st century.’
Responding to the Daily Mail report, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady called the right to strike a ‘a fundamental British liberty’.
‘Ministers should get on with fixing the cost-of-living emergency and getting wages rising, rather than making it harder for workers to win better pay and conditions.’
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner also labelled the plans ‘desperate and destructive’.
Mr Lynch said his union’s members are more determined than ever to protect their pensions, secure a decent pay rise, job security and good working conditions.
Transport for London has issued this graphic showing how the rail and bus strike will impact services across its network
South Western Railway — Limited service between London Waterloo and Basingstoke, Southampton, Windsor and Woking
London North Eastern Railway — Only two trains per hour will operate between Edinburgh and London King’s Cross today
c2c — There will be two trains per hour in each direction between London Fenchurch Street and Shoeburyness via Laindon
Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern — A limited service will be in place today on rail lines across the South East
WATERLOO: A service information board at London Waterloo shows a series of closures this morning due to the rail strike
WATERLOO: A near-empty Waterloo station is pictured this morning before limited rail services begin at 7.30am today
WATERLOO: An empty London Waterloo station this morning as trains wait on platforms before services start at 7.30am
BLACKWALL TUNNEL: Traffic queues on the A102(M) Blackwall Tunnel approach at Greenwich in South East London
PETERBOROUGH: Thameslink and Great Northern trains lined up in sidings in Peterborough this morning
Train fares could rise another EIGHT per cent despite record cancellations and rail strikes starting TODAY
Train fares could rise by as much as eight per cent despite passengers enduring the worst ever year for cancellations – and fresh travel hell set to start due to strikes today.
Regulated fares typically increase in line with the Retail Price Index’s (RPI) measure of inflation for July, plus one per cent – which would have meant a staggering 13.3 per cent increase in the cost of rail travel in March next year.
But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has agreed with the Treasury that that this should be reduced amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, The Times reports.
It has not yet been agreed how steep next year’s increase will be, but it is believed officials are considering a rise between six and eight per cent.
The potential rise comes after figures revealed the UK has seen its worst ever year for trains in 2022 after strikes, heatwaves and Covid-related staff sickness left 3.6 per cent of planned services being cancelled.
Office of Rail and Road data shows that 3.6 per cent of planned trains were cancelled in the 12 months to July 23 – the highest figure on records dating back to 2015.
And rail, Tube and bus passengers will suffer fresh travel misery from today as tens of thousands of workers stage strikes in long-running disputes over pay, jobs and conditions.
Network Rail, train companies, London Underground and buses in the capital will be hit by walkouts in the next few days, causing travel chaos for workers, holidaymakers and fans going to events, including a cricket Test match at Lords.
‘Network Rail have not made any improvement on their previous pay offer and the train operating companies have not offered us anything new,’ he said.
‘Tube bosses are having secret negotiations with the Government about cutting costs by slashing jobs and undermining working conditions and pensions.
‘Network Rail is also threatening to impose compulsory redundancies and unsafe 50% cuts to maintenance work if we did not withdraw strike action.
‘The train operating companies have put driver-only operations on the table along with ransacking our members’ terms and conditions.’
He added: ‘RMT will continue to negotiate in good faith but we cannot tolerate being bullied or hoodwinked into accepting a raw deal for our members.
‘The Government need to stop their interference in these disputes so the employers can come to a negotiated settlement with us.’
TSSA members taking action include staff working in ticket offices, stations, control rooms, engineering, as well as planning, timetabling and other support roles.
The union is seeking guarantees of no compulsory redundancies, a pay rise in line with the cost of living, and promises of no unilateral alterations to job terms and conditions.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: ‘Our members in the rail industry are going into the third or fourth year of a pay freeze.
Meanwhile, food and fuel bills are spiralling, and the Tory cost-of-living crisis is making working people poorer. Enough is enough – this cannot go on.
‘For lots of our members, this is the first time they have ever taken industrial action – it is a last resort and not something any rail worker takes lightly.’
He added: ‘Railway workers put their lives at risk to keep the country running in the pandemic and were rightly hailed as heroes.
‘Yet now the Tories are hampering negotiations and blocking employers from making a reasonable offer to those same rail workers.
‘Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and the Department for Transport need to make a reasonable offer on pay and job security – either by coming to the table themselves or allowing employers to negotiate freely. The string-pulling and blocking negotiations must stop.’
Mr Shapps said: ‘It’s clear, from their co-ordinated approach, that the unions are hell-bent on causing as much misery as possible to the very same taxpayers who stumped up £600 per household to ensure not a single rail worker lost their job during the pandemic.
How soaring energy bills could compare to the cost of commuting
MONTHLY ENERGY BILL
- £191 for gas and electricity if working from home in January
MONTHLY COMMUTING COSTS
- Any journey: £69.30 (42 journeys at £1.65 each) – CHEAPER
- Zone 2 to Zone 1: £134.40 (42 journeys at £3.20 each) – CHEAPER
- Zone 3 to Zone 1: £151.20 (42 journeys at £3.60 each) – CHEAPER
- Zone 4 to Zone 1: £180.60 (42 journeys at £4.30 each) – CHEAPER
- Zone 5 to Zone 1: £210.00 (42 journeys at £5 each) – MORE EXPENSIVE
- Zone 6 to Zone 1: £231 (42 journeys at £5.50 each) – MORE EXPENSIVE
- 20 miles: £137.76 (42 journeys at £3.28 each) – CHEAPER
- 25 miles: £172.62 (42 journeys at £4.11 each) – CHEAPER
- 30 miles: £204.96 (42 journeys at £4.88 each) – MORE EXPENSIVE
- RAC mileage calculator used, based on 52.3mpg Ford Focus hatchback with petrol costing 191p a litre
‘Sadly, union chiefs have short memories and will be repaying this act of good faith by ruining millions of hard-working people’s summer plans.
‘Businesses too will suffer, with the capital’s leisure and tourism sectors, which have been banking on that summer trade, set to lose millions – a particularly cruel blow given how hard many worked to stay afloat during successive summers of lockdown.’
Mr Haines previously said: ‘It saddens me that we are again having to ask passengers to stay away from the railway for two days this week due to unnecessary strike action, when we should be helping them enjoy their summers.
‘We have made a good and fair offer but, with the exception of our TSSA management grades who accepted the deal, our unions are refusing to let our employees have a say, and sadly that means more disruption on the rail network.
‘We’ll run as many services as we can on Thursday and Saturday, but it will only be around a fifth of the usual timetable, so please only travel if absolutely necessary and, if you must travel, plan ahead and check when your last train will be.’
Steve Montgomery, who chairs the Rail Delivery Group, said: ‘While we will do all that we can to minimise the impact and to get people where they need to be, passengers should only travel by rail if absolutely necessary and be aware that services may start later the morning after strikes.
‘If you’re not able to travel on 18 or 20 August, you can use your ticket either the day before or up to and including 23 August, otherwise you will be able to change your ticket or claim a refund.’
In Scotland, RMT picket lines will be in place at Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley from 7am today, with a ‘picket at the fringe’ at 10am on Waverley bridge.
David Simpson, ScotRail Service Delivery Director, said: ‘It is very unfortunate to see such widespread disruption across the whole of the Great Britain rail network and we know this will be frustrating for ScotRail customers.
‘Regrettably, this strike action by RMT members of Network Rail means that we will not be able to operate the vast majority of our services during the period of strike action.
‘Customers should expect significant disruption to services on strike days, as well as the following day.
‘We are able to operate on more routes than on the previous day of strike action, however, we are still only able to run a very limited number of services on these routes, so we’re advising customers to seek alternative means of transport and to only travel if they really need to.’
The ‘fat cats’ at the RMT who are trying to bring the UK to a crashing halt: From ‘Militant Mick’ (who’s compared himself to Thatcher’s rival Scargill) to his ‘Putin-sympathising’ Left-wing deputies
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, on the picket line outside London Euston train station
Mick Lynch, the militant general secretary of the RMT, is the firebrand ‘fat cat’ on at least £80,000 in perks and pay who has threatened to unleash successive strikes in the ongoing dispute with Network Rail over pay and working conditions.
Lynch has compared himself to Margaret Thatcher’s arch-rival Arthur Scargill – the former leader of the National Union of Mineworkers who attended picket lines during the nation-wide strikes earlier this summer – and declared class war at a protest in Westminster.
He recently sparked fury by claiming that the EU and Ukrainians ‘playing with Nazi imagery’ provoked Russia’s barbaric invasion in February.
In an interview with the New Statesman, he also claimed that ‘there were a lot of corrupt politicians in Ukraine’ and seemed to imply this was what lay behind Putin’s war.
He said: ‘The EU also provoked a lot of trouble in Ukraine. It was all about being pro-EU and all the rest of it’ – referring to the pro-EU demonstration which overthrew the Putin crony President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
‘There were a lot of corrupt politicians in Ukraine. And while they were doing that, there were an awful lot of people [in Ukraine] playing with Nazi imagery and going back to the [Second World] war, and all that. So, it’s not just that this stuff has sprung from one place.’
Alex Gordon, president of the RMT union, is a longstanding Marxist who has previously echoed the Kremlin’s propaganda by branding Ukraine ‘a failed state held to ransom by neo-Nazis’
Alex Gordon, president of the RMT union, is a longstanding Marxist who has previously echoed the Kremlin’s propaganda by branding Ukraine ‘a failed state held to ransom by neo-Nazis’.
Following Moscow’s invasion of Crimea, the militant former train driver protested outside Ukraine’s embassy in London in 2015 while wearing the black and orange Ribbon of St George, a symbol of Russian military valour.
Mr Gordon presides over the RMT’s ruling national executive committee. But he is also a major figure in the Communist Party of Britain, sitting on both its executive and political committees. The 55-year-old is also chairman of the Marx Memorial Library in North London, where Communist dictator Vladimir Lenin worked during his exile from Russia.
Eight years ago, Mr Gordon – who jointly owns a £500,000 flat in London – helped launch Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine (SARU), a campaign group that spouts the Kremlin line that Ukraine is controlled by a ‘far-Right regime’.
In May 2015, he was among 60 demonstrators who protested outside Ukraine’s embassy in London over the deaths of pro-Russian protesters during clashes in Odesa.
On the day that Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine in February, Mr Gordon branded Defence Secretary Ben Wallace a ‘delusional blowhard’ for suggesting the UK could ‘kick the backside’ of Russia.
Rail union baron Eddie Dempsey poses with pro-Putin warlord Alexander Mozgovoy in Russia
Eddie Dempsey became the union’s senior assistant general secretary four weeks ago, when Steve Hedley (who was briefly suspended by the RMT in 2020 for saying he would ‘throw a party’ if Boris Johnson died of coronavirus) retired.
Dempsey, who has said the RMT is ‘trying to create a culture of civil disobedience in this country’, lives in a council flat despite receiving a six figure sum in salary and contributions.
Mr Dempsey is paid £78,282 yearly as well as Employers’ NI contributions £9,978 and pension contributions of £20,289. But despite this he lives in subsidised social housing in London, with some neighbours suggesting he should move and let poorer people have his property
He is also a long-standing supporter of far-Left campaigns against the Ukrainian government. In 2015, he decided to travel to the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk, where he met Aleksey Mozgovoy, a misogynistic paramilitary leader of the pro-Russian ‘Ghost Brigade’ militia – branded a ‘terrorist organisation’ by Ukraine’s supreme court.
A year earlier, Mozgovoy had ordered his troop patrols to arrest any woman sitting in a pub or cafe, because ‘a woman must be the guardian of the hearth, a mother’. He had also ordered the murder of several members of a family whose car was riddled with bullets in a shooting that left a ten-year-old girl with life-changing injuries.