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The RMT is Wrong to Strike

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

The issue is not the amount of money is your pocket, but the amount it can purchase.

Second to this is the fairness in which money in an organisation is shared, which is a complicated matter in which agreement is rarely found.

However, if everyone does happen to live in comfortable living conditions with money to spare then the question of fairness is more a matter of principle than life-changing or even life-saving.

I am not dismissing this as an issue and distribution of wealth is a subject that I look forward to discussing in the future; it is that pay as a function to improve living conditions is wholly misleading.

I am tired of hearing politicians direct our attention to pay rather than concentrate all efforts how much our money can pay for.

Governments create the rules that we all play within.

Our pay has lost value because our government have chosen consciously to create the rules that have caused it.

House prices can be controlled if need be; laws can be introduced to prevent mortgage lenders to provide loans well beyond the means of most people.

Laws can also be introduced to reduce energy prices, petrol prices, rents, and the myriad of taxes.

It is a choice and they are choosing to keep the worth of the pound in our pockets low and lowering as we speak.

This article is about inflation, the cost of living and the RMT’s misguided strategy to provide a better life for its members.

I am a fierce proponent of strike action and of the unions (though I have never been a member), and so I fully support the RMT’s right to take the action they are taking even if this course is not something I agree with.

But it worries me that the public will start to grow weary of this vital part of our democracy if this and other such protests are carried out without the large support of the nation.

To Inflation

Inflation is tearing up the value of each pound earned. Whatever amount was in your bank account yesterday is worth less today. This is nothing new except the current level of inflation is flying past 10%.

Aside from the people that fully understand the situation and why it is happening, the rest of us can only hold our breath and hope that it slows down sometime soon.

Unless you are the person responsible for the production of the world’s goods and government regulation across the planet then there seems to be very little that we are able to do to protect ourselves from it: save your money and it devalues; or spend your money and you will receive less for it than you did last week.

So what is going on with inflation?

It’s a simple case of supply and demand.

Apparently we are demanding too much where suppliers are unable to meet our needs.

I find this so hard to believe being that the UK is drowning in debt, yet this is what we are being told.

The Bank of England raising interest rates is an attempt to reduce the amount of money that we can spend, but why is this so being that we are in a so called ‘cost of living crisis’?

People are already out of money!

Us mere mortals who do not understand the intricacies of the banking system are right to ask: Is denying me money to buy goods the only way to tackle inflation? Or is there something to be gained by exploring the suppliers that are supposedly unable to keep up? So what are the issues with supply?

Aside from the standard practice of certain companies hoarding supply to keep prices far higher than they otherwise would be, the lockdowns have meant that businesses up and down the supply chain could not know whether to manufacturer and order goods.

The world’s suppliers stood still and that is only for the ones that survived.

Fewer companies making fewer goods is the root cause, but the scale of it is beyond our understanding.

The decision makers behind the lockdowns knew what was going to happen, and they know now what is going to happen next:

· Interest rates will continue to rise in the name of inflation.

· People may start defaulting on their mortgages.

· Less money to spend on non-essential goods will mean businesses will grow smaller and even go bankrupt.

· Jobs will be lost and more people will be reliant on government hand-outs.

· Fewer people will start businesses and so fewer jobs will be created.

Once groups of businesses are gone from an area it is a long and near impossible journey back.

Demand for the basics such as food, water, housing and clothing will always be there but it will only be those businesses that are left who will be able to provide the supply.

Fewer companies left in the market will equate to near monopolies where prices can eventually be manipulated to their wants.

But this is not inevitable if the government does not wish for it; governments across the world allow all of this to be as they regulate the market and set the rules of engagement.

Laws can prevent anything we want, so when multi-billion pound companies are breaking records this is directly down to governments.

We know life is not as simple as saying to an oil company you’ve had your fair share now enough is enough!

What is directly in government control is tax and reducing it tomorrow would instantly take many people back from the brink.

Johnson and co. could argue that the money will be spent on public services, but in this time of corruption and waste, I believe there to be a big movement in "I’d rather keep my money, thanks"! Trust in politicians is justifiably low. But I digress...

How does inflation relate to the rail strikes?

The argument is that people are struggling to live given the 10% inflations figures, and that they are effectively earning less than they were in real terms. Therefore to accommodate inflation the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) is suggesting an increase of ‘only’ 7%.

Unfortunately a 7% increase would be another cost to business that would inevitably be passed onto the passenger.

Increasing wages is a solution that causes more problems:

· What if inflation were 20% in 3 months?

· Will there be more strikes?

· If not, why not?

· If so, where does it end?

What about the Rail Bosses taking fortunes?

If there are CEOs earning £400K, which is being reported, then that in itself is certainly cause for deep concern.

Most of us are people of conscience and this disparity is clearly inconsistent with this.

I would certainly back a movement to share the wealth more evenly, however, the rail industry itself it not booming.

£2.5bn total income for fares and passengers income was wiped out by £10.9bn of expenditures. The government uses our taxes to subsidise the industry. If the rail industry was actually in the private sector for real, it would have collapsed a long time ago.

Rail is not oil.

And what about other public sector salaries

When you look at some of the salaries in the rail industry compared to that of nurses and teachers, there seems to be quite a disparity.

Pay is such a sensitive issue, and we can all make arguments as to why one job is more important than another, and why someone should be paid more, but ultimately there is only so much to go around.

The rail industry has shrunk. There is less money in the pot, which is why the changes are happening.

I do not support the practice of hire and re-fire nor altering contracts that are already in place. It is a sure-fire way to demoralise a workforce and cripple the organisation, which is what has happened.

There is no doubt the government are taking liberties with the people that run our rail tracks.

They are also bundling through new policies that will permit agency workers to work during a strike. This would dramatically weaken any future strike action.

Paymasters and Personal Agendas

We all have paymasters and therefore a duty to that paymaster, and the leader of the RMT, Mick Lynch, has a paymaster too.

His primary duty is to the trade union members, but like anyone in power, he will have other agendas too.

His reputation; his job; his money; his family; his friends; his organisation. In which order that comes in is anyone’s guess, but his stance does not make sense.

He should know how money works, and that pay is not the fundamental issue when it comes to people’s lives; the cost of living is the crux of the problem and stopping people from working is compounding it.

In the private sector pay is according to what the business can afford; we cannot all demand to bring in a wage that is in line with inflation.

I support complete financial transparency and truthful communication of those finances to the workers.

They need to know why these decisions are taken and given the opportunity to make suggestions themselves as to how to reduce costs across the company.

It should be a partnership rather than a competition.

In reality a rail strike will achieve little more than a temporary victory whose extra money will likely be worth less than it was when the picket lines started due to inflation.

That may be their point, but they will not be able to defeat inflation itself.

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