RMT and RCN set to strike again – as nurses stick two fingers up at their union

Joe Glenton 
14th April 2023 – https://www.thecanary.co/uk

National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) members, and Royal College of Nursing (RCN) nurses, are set to go on strike again. They’re seeking a better deal for pay and conditions after rejecting offers from their bosses. Late on Friday 14 April, nurses specifically voted to reject the Tories’ pay offer. A 48-hour strike will follow on 30 April.

RMT: everybody out

An RMT press release said:

Hundreds of contracted out cleaners working on trains across the country will take strike action on Friday and Saturday this week.

RMT members working as cleaners for the likes of Churchill, Bidvest Noonan, and Atalian Servest are demanding £15 an hour, company sick pay, decent holidays and good pensions from contractors who are raking in profits worth millions of pounds.

RMT workers had already begun their strike on 14 April:

The union added:

The union is determined to see justice done for contracted out cleaners, who are some of the most exploited railway workers in the country.

Worker fightback

General secretary Mick Lynch pulled no punches in his comments, condemning train bosses ‘perverse’ practices:

Contracting out on the railways is one of the most perverse and exploitative practices in the industry.

It is leading to our members in the cleaning grades barely scraping by on poverty wages and appalling terms and conditions.

He added:

Our members are fully prepared take whatever industrial action is required to get justice in the workplace and a decent life for them and their families.

RCN: nurses reject union demands

The results of the RCN membership ballot were out on Friday 14 April, to decide if they would strike. At 5:11pm, the union announced workers had rejected the government pay offer. Members will strike for 48 hours on 30 April:

The RCN membership is going against their bosses and their own union hierarchies. Journalist Solomon Hughes said the decision was a very significant one indeed:

Meanwhile, the press reported that a strike decision may rattle PM Rishi Sunak, who had hoped to head off another round of worker militancy.

Striking workers

Trade union bureaucracies can themselves be conservative, and the RCN is hardly seen as a militant union. If workers push their union leaders hard, then that can only be a good thing. And while the RMT has a more militant leadership, it is still positive to see cleaners taking the fight forward against their tight-fisted bosses.