Solidarity to the RMT and TSSA at this critical time

2023-08-01 -
Mick Whelan wearing a suit and ASLEF tie

Mick Whelan's Column - August 2023

The idea that ticket machines offer a comparable service is a downright lie

Colleagues, first I want to condemn the actions of this government through its puppets, the RDG, in the wholesale closure of booking offices in the Westminster-run train operating companies. We are used to their bad faith, and outright lies, after our recent experiences, but they continue with impunity. Videos declaring that there will be no job losses and more front-facing staff are shown to be untrue in each and every separate proposal put to our sister unions in each and every on of these weasel operators.

We are aware we do not live in a polite society, especially after over a decade of government austerity and demeaning of society. Prior to the pandemic we saw sexual assaults on our railways rise, along with county lines, acid attacks, and physical and verbal abuse. The illegal failure to provide adequate services to those in our communities with visible and invisible disabilities was well known; now it will be, to all intents and purposes, non-existent.

The idea that ticket machines can offer tourists, the disabled, and those with any level of difficulty, a comparable service is a downright lie. The figures being used are skewed and do not include the millions of interactions for direction, help, or assistance that take place or the impact on our tourist trade.

We support the politicians and metro mayors for their cross-bench support, and possible legal action, against this heinous decision. Where is the Transport Minister and Rail Minister during this limited 21-day consultation? Nowhere to be seen! And I'm not surprised.

There is a fundamental issue for us as lone workers on how this impacts on driver safety in a long list of areas and we shall be seeking those safety impact assessments for every role and activity we undertake. Solidarity to the RMT and the TSSA at this critical moment. We know the increase in no-go areas that this will generate for the travelling public and railway staff. You might think that this government wants a declining railway? 

Naturally the bad actors are so busy creating and unsafe railway that we have had no contact from the government which is about to go into recess for a couple of months or the operators, either. They waited to see if you would maintain the mandates for strike action and action short of a strike. You were - and are again - phenomnenal in your solidarity and unity. We have varied the action to show the industry - and passenges - their reliance on overtime and will be assessing this shortly. Don't believe we are exempt from them trying to force through bad change given their actions on booking offices - so vigilance and strength will be required.

To our members in freight we know that, due to government failings and policies, you are getting issues and challenges - which we report on pages 8, 9, 10 and 11 - and we will not be found wanting in dealing with those as they arise. On the Tube we are at ACAS, as I write, but will be on the picket lines, as always, with you if those talks are unsuccessful. In any - and all - sectors we will fight to protect what we have and our futures in this industry. 

We will stay - and stand - together.

Please be safe.

Mick Whelan