Mass strikes and belligerent disputes: why it’s all kicking off on the railways | Christian Wolmar

Mass strikes and belligerent disputes: why it’s all kicking off on the railways | Christian Wolmar
The rail crisis, exemplified by RMT’s row with Southern, is a potent mix of disaffected workers, out-of-touch management and cynical government agendas

It’s all happening on the railways. A five-day strike on Southern rail services, a walkout over a 2008 agreement at Eurostar and now Virgin East Coast is also set to be affected by strike action. Sounds like the good – or rather bad – old days of the 1970s, when strikes and work-to-rule protests backed by picket lines went hand in hand with Daily Mail warnings of “the enemy within”.

The longstanding row going on at Southern is the most significant of these disputes because there is clearly a government agenda. The Southern contract is not, like most of those granted to train operators, a franchise but rather a management contract. The key difference is that this means all the revenue from fares goes straight to the government and there is no revenue risk for Govia, the operator which just receives a management fee for running services.

Related: Southern Rail CEO: our passengers are suffering. The RMT union is to blame | Charles Horton

It is rather like the reasons underlying the Brexit vote: a general disaffection and giving two fingers to bosses.

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Source: Guardian Transport

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