Nearly 200 east coast rail workers jobs are at risk because of plans to cut down on staff numbers. In response rail workers went on strike today, backed by an 84% strike vote. The franchise train operator Virgin brought in scab workers from around the country, presumably to try and break the strike. Multi-billionaire Richard Branson clearly wants rail workers to take the impact for the failure of his state-subsidised rail franchise, when in public hands, the east coast main line made a £13 million profit, before it was handed over to Branson in 2015. Just over 18 months later it is losing as much as
£1 million a week. The ideologically blinkered clearly didn’t see this one coming, when they handed the contract over to the private sector. Which was already failing the public nationally with unaffordable tickets and ram-packed trains that don’t run on time, at a cost to the public purse of billions of pounds in state subsidy.
Privatisation has already failed twice on this route. But there’s nothing like banging your head against a brick wall for a 3rd time and expecting to get a get a different result. Yes, this is the definition of madness. And now Richard Branson and his scab army want to force rail workers into paying the price for this mistake. Perhaps instead of consolidating his efforts into trying to smear Jeremy Corbyn, he should put his vanity and self-interest aside and give a little thought to his workers. Many of whom may soon be finding themselves at the dole office claiming £72.40 a week. Unable to get a crisis loan in times of need, they could in some cases suffer the shame of walking into food banks, because of administrative delays and errors on behalf of the DWP. While Sir Richard kicks back sipping cocktails on his 60 million pound Caribbean island.
We at ‘The Prole Star’ condemn ‘Virgin Trains’ for compromising safety and stand in solidarity with the RMT and striking rail workers. We call for the Conservative government, who are obsessed with cuts when it comes to public services and social security, to make cuts to corporate welfare and stop funding a failed system. The same system, which in 2013–14 the government contributed £3.8billion to in subsidy. It’s time to take the railways back into public ownership, at a much lower cost to the taxpayer. Austerity backer, Richard Branson should be in full agreement to this, as in the past he has aligned himself with ‘The Tories’ and called for reduced public spending immediately. Of course he won’t, as he only meant for the poor and is quite happy to retain his grand status as Britain’s biggest benefit scrounger of all, in an act of blatant hypocrisy.
Today in Leeds rail workers picketed outside several main train stations, handing out leaflets to curious passengers passing by. In defiance of their management they united in solidarity to maintain their conditions, defend their jobs and most importantly, because they value safety over profit. Victory to the RMT!