Union chief says Christmas strikes 'co-ordinated to bring down this bloody Tory government'

RMT president said aim was to 'strive to replace the capitalist system with a socialist order'

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Sunday 18 December 2016 11:13
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The union leader behind the Christmas rail strikes said industrial action had been coordinated to “bring down this bloody working-class-hating Tory government”, it has been claimed.

RMT president Sean Hoyle reportedly said the union's "rule number one" was to “strive to replace the capitalist system with a socialist order”.

Britain is bracing itself for further strikes on the Southern Rail network, which is likely to spell disaster for many travelling over the Christmas period and into the new year.

In excerpts of speeches published by The Times, Mr Hoyle reportedly told a meeting of hard-left activists last month, “if we all spit together we can drown the bastards”.

The general secretary of the RMT has dismissed claims the union is "part of some conspiracy to bring the Government down".

Mick Cash has insisted train workers are staging a series of strikes this Christmas because they are worried about the safety of passengers.

He told The Independent: "We are a serious trade union dealing with serious issues around safety on the railways. That is our absolute priority. RMT is not party to any Trotskyist conspiracy to bring down the Government. Our conductor members on Southern are on strike this week in defence of the safety of the travelling public and that remains the focus of the entire union."

Following a drivers' strike earlier in December, RMT members will walk out on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 December, with a four-day walkout planned across the New Year from Saturday 31 December to Tuesday 2 January.

Drivers will then strike for most of the second week of the New Year: Monday 9 to Saturday 14 January.

The dispute is over “Driver Only Operation”: whether the driver or the guard opens and closes the doors, with both Aslef, the drivers' union, and RMT in dispute with Govia Thameslink (GTR) Southern's parent company,

However, videos of Mr Hoyle have now revealed an alleged political motive for the walkouts.

At a meeting organised by the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) in Brighton in September, Mr Hoyle said: “Any trade unionist with any sense wants to bring down this bloody working-class-hating Tory government. That’s what we want to do. That’s what we’re about.”

Mr Hoyle also admitted at another meeting the Southern strikes wouldn’t “hurt the company” financially but “what we’re having to do is to make that political stance”.

He also confirmed the union’s stance that plans for driver-only operations were "unsafe”.

Appearing on BBC Radio 5 Live's Pienaar's Politics, Mr Cash said the strikes on Southern rail network are not a political stunt but over concerns about passengers being caught in doors, dragged along platforms and getting injured.

He said: "I see the media reports today, and as far as I'm concerned I'm not interested in what's said at fringe political meetings.

"We are a serious industrial trade union, we are not part of some conspiracy to bring the Government down. We are focusing on the concerns that our members have had around safety on the railways."

The RMT has held 22 days of strike action since April to dispute Southern’s plans to change the guard’s role to "onboard supervisor” — checking tickets and helping passengers but not opening or closing the doors.

Members of Aslef held three days of strikes last week in protest, closing the entire Southern network on each of the strike days.

It is not just the railways likely to cause chaos for Britons travelling over the festive period.

British Airways cabin crew based at Heathrow airport are to strike on Christmas Day and Boxing Day in a row over pay and conditions.

The planned strikes in full:

Baggage handlers: 1,500 check-in staff, baggage handlers and cargo crew at 18 UK airports are planning a 48-hour strike from December 23 in a pay dispute. All work for Swissport and are members of the Unite union. Unite and Swissport will hold talks on Tuesday.

Cabin crew: Up to 4,500 British Airways cabin crew members based at Heathrow will strike on December 25 and 26 in a pay dispute backed by Unite. BA said it has approached conciliation service Acas to organise talks.

Pilots: Virgin Atlantic pilots will take industrial action short of a strike and work "strictly to contract" from December 23 over a union representation dispute.

Post Office workers: 4,000 Post Office workers will strike for five days from December 19 in a dispute over job security and pensions. Talks between the Post Office and the Communication Workers Union broke down on Thursday.

Rail workers: Southern Railway conductors are due to hold a two-day strike from Monday, and over the New Year. A five-day train drivers' strike is due to be held from January 9 over the removal of guards from trains.

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