In the face of Tory Strife, TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes calls for Labour Party and Labour Movement unity to ensure labour wins power.
The Tory’s under-reported proxy war against rail passengers and staff shows that under Theresa May, her party remains as nasty and vindictive as ever.
During the infamous dispute with the miners, their General was a man by the name of Ian MacGregor. Hand picked by Thatcher he ruthlessly led the coal industry and, the miners who worked within it, to oblivion.
Today, the Tory pawns are the privateers who run the rail franchises. But, this time round their war effort is directed from within the DfT and their new war lord a man named Peter Wilkinson. His job title is Director of Passenger Services. But in a cocky moment of candour addressing a Tory public meeting in Croydon in February, he let the cat out of the bag and revealed his raison d’être was 'punch ups' with rail workers and taking on their unions - serving passengers was not his priority at all.
Since then, hardly to anyone's surprise, a range of savage DfT led cuts have been announced by rail privateers across our industry. Train guards are on the way out, booking offices will be shut whilst taxpayer pounds provide handsome profits for the cosy cartel running our train services. Of course, our rail union job is to stand up for the services that passengers so richly deserve from the services our members provide.
And let's face it, our demographics mean that we are an ageing nation. Sadly, as years pile up, our mobility is adversely affected. Given this, having people to lend a helping hand at both stations and on trains must be a must. So you don't have to be a rocket scientist or be on Wilkinson's £250,000 plus mega-salary to work out that we aren't about to give up without a fight. It is funny how the Tories have no qualms in lavishly serving our hard-earned taxes to their henchmen rather than return them to us in the form of a well-provisioned service.
Passengers are fed-up with paying the highest fares in Europe for rides that on occasions resemble cattle-trucks and are firmly on our side. Disgracefully, the Tories are firmly putting their ideological colours before the interests of passengers and taxpayers. Of course, Labour's settled wish is to bring our railways back to where they belong. Public ownership is now rightly cherished across the`Labour Party - a popular vote winning policy whose time has most definitely come! And yet, it took Jeremy’ Corbyn's win last September to drive through this commitment to bringing rail franchises back into public ownership as they expire after previous pleas had repeatedly fallen on his predecessors’ deaf ears.
The Tories are deliberately engineering disputes across our railways. They want to reconfigure our industry so that greedy shareholders can maximise their profits. Our front line staff are in their firing line. Climb on a plane and you are told the stewards are their primarily for your safety. Climb on a train and the Tories are doing away with any form of security staffing and running rough shod over the legitimate concerns of passengers who want quite the opposite. At a time when Theresa May’s Tories are drawing new battle lines, the Labour Party and the labour movement need to match the mood for public service with unity of purpose. This is not a time for capricious inward looking naval gazing. We expect Labour MPs to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Party's leader to repel the cowardly attacks which the Tories are inflicting on working people whether they are our passengers or our staff.
It is time to raise our sights rather than get caught in the meaningless internal squabbles. In place of this real Tory strife, what our country needs, what our railways, what our people need, is Labour in power!
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