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The Independent

UK rail strikes: Who’s RMT chief Mick Lynch?

Britain’s rail networks will as soon as extra be dropped at a standstill on Saturday 26 November after which once more on 11 and 12 December as members of the drivers’ union Aslef stroll out as a part of a long-running dispute over pay.

Bosses who need to reduce 1,900 jobs argue that the railway has not recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, is at the moment dropping tens of millions of kilos a day and is in determined want of modernisation and therefore can not grant the specified wage rise, regardless of the hardship meaning for its employees.

Members of the Nationwide Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Employees (RMT) have already taken half in eight days of strike motion since June and has since revealed that greater than 40,000 employees throughout Network Rail and 14 practice working firms will stage an extra sequence of 48-hour walkouts on 13, 14, 16 and 17 December and on 3, 4, 6 and seven January 2023, impacting Christmas and the New 12 months.

The RMT has additionally issued an additional time ban for its members throughout the railway community from 18 December to 2 January.

The person on the centre of the dispute is once more RMT general-secretary Mick Lynch, who has repeatedly insisted his members haven’t any various as they pursue a pay rise in keeping with inflation because the cost of living disaster rumbles on.

“Railway employees have been handled appallingly and regardless of our greatest efforts in negotiations, the rail trade, with the help of the federal government, has didn’t take their issues severely,” he mentioned this summer time.

“Now we have a price of dwelling disaster, and it’s unacceptable for railway employees to both lose their jobs or face one other yr of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1 per cent and rising. Our union will now embark on a sustained marketing campaign of industrial action which can shut down the railway system.”

To advertise and clarify his trigger, the veteran commerce unionist carried out a media blitz in June and July throughout which he served up a well-deserved roasting to a few of Britain’s most distinguished information anchors and politicians.

Chatting with Sky Information’s Sophy Ridge on 19 June, Mr Lynch was requested whether or not the strikes amounted to “class warfare” and he answered, very fairly: “There’s a category side to every little thing within the economic system.

“There are decrease paid individuals and there are rich individuals on this society and what’s flawed on this society is that there’s an imbalance between the folks that do the work to maintain this nation going, who create the wealth of our civilisation and don’t get a justifiable share of that wealth as a result of it’s going to people who find themselves vastly rich.”

On resorting to industrial motion, he mentioned: “What else are we to do? Are we to plead? Are we to beg? We need to discount for our futures. We need to negotiate… I don’t need any working-class individuals on this nation to need to beg their employers for an honest dwelling.”

He rounded off that interview by calling the fact of full-time employees having to hunt state advantages and use meals banks “a nationwide shame”.

When the strike acquired underway two days later, Mr Lynch was again on our screens to torch Richard Madeley at his most Partridgian on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

When the presenter demanded to know whether or not he actually was a Marxist hell-bent on bringing down society, the RMT man merely chuckled and noticed: “Richard, you do provide you with essentially the most exceptional twaddle typically, I’ve acquired to say.”

By lunchtime, he was on BBC Politics Reside responding magnificently to a haranguing from Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis, who accused him of being a regressive relic and demanded that he apologise to medical doctors, nurses, faculty youngsters and warfare veterans for interfering with their plans.

“I believe Jonathan ought to apologise for speaking nonsense,” Mr Lynch countered. “None of that’s true. Now we have acquired automated know-how on trains. We’ve acquired pantograph cameras, we’ve acquired ultrasonic sensors, we’ve acquired issues that detect faults on tracks. So that’s all garbage, I negotiated that take care of Community Rail myself.

“That’s simply stuff that’s written in Conservative Central Workplace for backbench MPs to spout. I don’t need this disruption, I don’t need individuals to be inconvenienced. I need a settlement to this dispute however I can’t try this with a backbench MP who’s simply realized it off a script. We all know what the problems are.”

Mr Lynch later discovered himself up in opposition to the extent boss of the beat-’em-up sport that’s broadcast information, none aside from Sky’s formidable Kay Burley herself, who subsequently posted a clip of their encounter on social media insisting he had been “flustered” by her doggedness.

This was not the case. Mr Lynch was maybe mildly exasperated however had merely refused to swallow the bait when she requested him persistently about whether or not union members would cease company employees from crossing picket strains, seemingly insinuating that fights may escape between the 2 sides.

“What are you speaking about? We appear to have gone off into the world of the surreal,” the union veteran mentioned when Ms Burley invoked the miners’ strikes of the Nineteen Eighties, standing apart to disclose a really quiet and well-behaved protest being staged over his proper shoulder.

“Your questions are verging into nonsense… We are going to cease company employees crossing the picket line by asking them to not go to work. What’s it you’re suggesting we’ll do?”

At that time, it was Ms Burley who declined to reply the query.

We should always maybe not be so stunned by Mr Lynch’s calm beneath strain, given his lengthy historical past in industrial relations.

Born in Paddington in 1962 to Irish immigrant mother and father, he was certainly one of 5 siblings and raised in rented council housing with a tin bath and shared toilet facilities that he has since described to The Guardian as a “slum”.

He left faculty at 16 to coach as an electrician earlier than later shifting into building, working for Eurostar from 1993 and changing into energetic in RMT politics, finally successful compensation for the unlawful blacklisting he had suffered earlier in his profession.

The person described as a “shaven-headed rail union baron” and “much more militant than the notorious Comrade [Bob] Crow” by The Day by day Mail served two-terms because the RMT’s assistant general-secretary earlier than stepping in as appearing general-secretary in 2020 when Mick Cash was taken unwell.

He was elected to the position full-time in Might 2021.

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