Ed Davey: Johnson and Shapps pretend they can’t end the rail strikes. That’s nonsense

The train strike has already had a devastating impact on businesses and on the general public.

Ed Davey has written an article in The Guardian under the headline: Johnson and Shapps pretend they can’t end the rail strikes. That’s nonsense.

He writes:

The Liberal Democrats are against the rail strikes and if a summer of discontent is not to turn into a winter of discontent and full-on stagflation, ministers must step back from the brink.

The position of lower-paid workers across our country should be at the forefront of ministers’ thinking – not that of the highest earners in the City, whose pay and bonuses the government announced this week would not be limited in any way.

The solution?

The solution to such distressing stories is clear: instead of strikes, there should be dialogue between government ministers and union bosses.

Ministers must now clean up their own mess. Liberal Democrats are calling for an emergency Cobra meeting to kickstart a practical compromise and to keep Britain moving.

And here is Christine Jardine (our Treasury spokseperson) telling the BBC what Grant Shapps and the Government should do. It is a national emergency so it would be appropriate for Cobra to meet.

 

 

 

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

Read more by or more about , , , or .
This entry was posted in LibLink and News.
Advert

58 Comments

  • I’m a little disappointed with Ed’s comment “instead of strikes, there should be dialogue between government ministers and union bosses.” Yes, of course there should, but is that the best he can say? Why not tell people what the Lib Dem position is on the situation that has led to this strike? Or is our position “equidistant” again?

  • Ed Davey, “The Liberal Democrats are against the rail strike”…

    I’m one who isn’t..

    As for, “there should be dialogue between government ministers and union bosses” that implies that there should be flexibility on both sides..
    Johnson’s words yesterday..”I’m afraid that [the strike] cannot be allowed to look successful when it settles … It must be seen to have been not worth it to have gone on strike for the railwaymen. That’s a situation we had reached by the time we got to the 70s and 80s. And I think we’ve reached that stage now”, says it all.

    This government will do everything to prevent an early solution in order to send a message to teachers, nurses and all others in the public sector…
    Just wait; the day nurses take industrial action they will go (in the Mail/Express/ Telegraph, etc.) from being Florence Nightingale to being Harold Shipman..

  • David Evershed 22nd Jun '22 - 11:35am

    The only way the country’s wealth and well being as a whole can be improved is through better productivity. For the last decade or more UK productivity has hardly changed and so we can not expect living standards to get better.

    Management and staff of public and private organisations need to focus on improving productivity for their own self benefit. Political parties and governments should be encouraging them to do so. One way is to link pay increases to improved methods of working. Governments should not get involved in the micro management and detail of implementing such improvements though.

    Lib Dems best tactics are to support policies which improve productivity for everyone’s benefit and support management who do so.

  • Graham Jeffs 22nd Jun '22 - 11:45am

    Is it true that the median earnings for a rail driver is £59K and that retirement age is 62?

  • I agree fully with David Evershed here.

    I don’t want to government to be involved in the micromanagement of private companies who are engaging in absolutely necessary productity reforms. And I don’t see a role for the government in negotiations between unions and the private sector.

    The inflation and cost of living squeeze we are seeing now (leading to actual and future industrial action) are primarily the payment for the very expensive (and mostly ineffective) Covid mitigation policies over the previous 2 years. Supply side disruption (forcibly stopping work and production) as well as demand side interference (printing money to pay people not to work) was always going to massively drive inflation (as all people like myself opposed to the Covid mitigation measures at the time said). The inflation and cost of living squeeze (higher prices and stagnant wages) are what we have to endure now and is how we pay for that gargantuan self-harm of our Covid policy. There will come a time in the not too distant future where almost everyone will deny that they ever supported the country’s lockdown policies, because the horrific damage they did are only now starting to unfold and manifest themselves. A lot more of the damage is yet to come

  • @Graham Jeffs

    I don’t think it is that high. True, the earnings for railway drivers (and other railway workers) are much higher than the average and median earnings of the population, but not to this degree. I totally oppose the strike in both principle and reason, but I think it’s better to stick to hard facts. I believe the average and median earnings for train staff on strike is in the mid £30k. For Network Rail staff, it is much much higher, but the work is much much more skilled and technical

  • Nonconformistradical 22nd Jun '22 - 11:56am

    @Graham Jeffs 22/6 11:45
    I don’t know but as far as I do know most drivers are in the ASLEF union not RMT. It’s all the other people who work on/for our railways who are involved in this major dispute.

  • I disagree with David Evershed and James Pugh, because the fundamental issue is not one of productivity or of micromanagement. In the past 40 years, UK productivity has grown 80%. Workers real wages have all but stagnated, meaning all the benefit of that productivity growth has gone to the owners of capital not the providers of labour. That is a problem across the whole of the late-stage capitalist economic system we are living under. I don’t see the rail strike as a one-off isolated expression of something not working properly, I see it as the canary in the mine.

  • Graham Jeffs 22nd Jun ’22 – 11:45am…….Is it true that the median earnings for a rail driver is £59K and that retirement age is 62?…

    And your point (apart from missing the fact that most train drivers are not RMT members) is?

    ….As for “I don’t want to government to be involved in the micromanagement of private companies who are engaging in absolutely necessary productity reforms”…

    Most of those on strike are employed by ‘Network Rail’ (classified by the government as a “public sector body” under the Department of Transport); so the government are their employer.

  • “the highest earners in the City, whose pay and bonuses the government announced this week would not be limited in any way.”

    Those are among the sort of people who bank-roll the Conservative party and are looked after with low taxes as a reward.

  • Paul Barker 22nd Jun '22 - 1:23pm

    We should be pointing out that The RMT are actually asking for a pay cut in real terms, they have made clear that they would accept 7% over a Year when Inflation is predicted to hit 11%. They are being very Moderate, its The Tories who are The “Militants” here.

  • Peter Watson 22nd Jun '22 - 1:33pm

    The leader’s anodyne call for “dialogue” and “compromise” and the discussion below the article highlight the way, on many issues, the Lib Dem position often looks very unclear.
    In a debate like this, one would expect the Conservative and Labour party positions to be predictable and well-understood (notwithstanding Starmer’s wishy-washy leadership) but it’s often hard to guess the Lib Dem position. I sometimes suspect it depends on which Lib Dem is answering the question and who they think is listening to the answer!
    In recent years, the party seems to have moved to a vague, inoffensive, soggy form of centrism: anti-this, opposed to that, critical of the other, with none of the radical and progressive zeal of the not-too-distant past.
    With Starmer seeming to occupy the same soft ground, simply throwing stones at the Johnson and his government in the hope that eventually someone else will get a turn, it is depressing to see such uninspiring alternatives to the shower running things now.

  • David Evershed 22nd Jun ’22 – 11:35am:
    The only way the country’s wealth and well being as a whole can be improved is through better productivity.

    Exactly so.

    Management and staff of public and private organisations need to focus on improving productivity for their own self benefit.

    Indeed. That is Network Rail’s claimed objective…

    ‘Archaic rail rules mean it takes nine workers to ‘change a plug socket’’ [June 2022]:
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/06/21/archaic-rail-rules-mean-takes-nine-workers-change-plug-socket/

    Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, on Tuesday said that “poor productivity” had become deeply entrenched throughout the railways.

    “We are such an archaic industry in many of our working practices we can offer a good pay rise to our colleagues and good value for the taxpayer if only we can get sensible reforms in.”

    Graham Jeffs 22nd Jun ’22 – 11:45am:
    Is it true that the median earnings for a rail driver is £59K and that retirement age is 62?

    It is, but 96% of drivers belong to ASLEF so are not directly involved in this strike. However, as in the 1970s they will likely seek to ‘maintain differentials’ in due course.

  • Graham Jeffs 22nd Jun ’22 – 11:45am:
    Is it true that the median earnings for a rail driver is £59K and that retirement age is 62?

    It is, but 96% of driers belong to ASLEF so not directly involved in this strike. However, as in the 1970s they will likely seek to ‘maintain differentials’ in due course.

    James Pugh 22nd Jun ’22 – 11:55am
    I believe the average and median earnings for train staff on strike is in the mid £30k.

    According to the ONS, median earnings are £36,800…

    ‘Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings – Estimates of median annual earnings for occupations in the rail sector excluding train and tram drivers, 2021’ [June 2022]:
    https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/adhocs/14778annualsurveyofhoursandearningsestimatesofmedianannualearningsforoccupationsintherailsectorexcludingtrainandtramdrivers2021

  • Joseph Bourke 22nd Jun '22 - 1:40pm

    Full fact has done some analysis on pay https://fullfact.org/economy/RMT-strike-salary/. “The BBC has calculated that the median pay of full-time workers involved in the RMT (excludes Aslef drivers) national rail strike is £38,000.”
    The basic economics of rail are such that private companies need to be able to generate sufficient profits to attract capital for investment and upgrade of rail infrastructure and also pay wages and salaries at sufficient levels to attract and retain skilled staff. The ability to do so is dependent on the volume of rail users which in turn is partly a function of the price of the services. Governments subsidise rail services because of the social and economic benefits that it brings. In a nationalised rail system, the government borrows for capital funding and taxpayers fund the cost of borrowing and operating subsidies.
    Ultimately, workers need market pay that increases with inflation and users will have to pay market prices. One policy we can and should advocate is that employers be allowed to reimburse the cost of public transport for their staff tax free. Another potential policy is rather than a single train company operating a route use a slot system that train companies can bid for as the airlines do.

  • Peter Martin 22nd Jun '22 - 2:09pm

    Has Sir Keir threatened to expel himself from the Labour Party yet?

    https://cdn.thelondoneconomic.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/30a70bb4-starmer-mcdonalds.jpeg

  • How many of the folk that read LDV would want to apply for a job as a train cleaning (including waste disposal) at £ 9.50 per hour ? A cut and paste of job advert is below :

    Train Cleaners Required in Bolton
    In partnership with Totaljobs
    Total Facilities Recruitment
    BL3, Bolton
    Posted 8 days ago
    £9.50 per hour
    The Cleaning Operative will to carry out the delivery of cleaning and waste. The post holder will be hardworking and committed to ensuring the highest cleaning standards are adhered to at all times. Professional at all times and readily interacting with our client as required. * Temp – Ongoing Role * General cleaning duties * Mon-Fri some weeks will be working weekends * 1st candidate to do 6am-2pm * 2nd candidate to do 2pm-20pm
    more
    Total Facilities Recruitment
    Train Cleaner required in Harrogate
    In partnership with Totaljobs
    Total Facilities Recruitment
    HG1, Harrogate
    Posted 13 days ago
    £9.50 per hour
    The Cleaning Operative will to carry out the delivery of cleaning and waste. The post holder will be hardworking and committed to ensuring the highest cleaning standards are adhered to at all times. Professional at all times and readily interacting with our client as required. * TEMP-perm * ASAP START * must be flexible * week 1 mon-fri 7:30am-3:30pm * week 2 tues-sat 1pm-9pm * must have cleaning experiences
    more
    TXM Recruit Limited
    Train Cleaner
    In partnership with Totaljobs
    TXM Recruit Limited
    Edinburgh & Lothians
    Posted 22 days ago
    £10.56 per hour, Benefits Rate increase after 12 weeks
    TXM Recruit are looking for a number of Train Cleaners.

  • Brad Barrows 22nd Jun '22 - 4:28pm

    A lot of the discussion around the current wages of railway workers misses the point – whatever they were when agreed last year, the vale has been eroded by inflation which is currently at 9.1%. It is not unreasonable for unions to seek to maintain the value of their previously agreed level of wages by seeking a pay increase that compensates for the effect of inflation.

  • Chris Moore 22nd Jun '22 - 5:00pm

    If EVERYONE has above inflation pay rises, we will sustain inflation for another year (assuming productivity and/or immigration don’t go through the roof).

    Oh good!

    We have had a serious financial crisis followed by COVID. Governments have responded by massively inflating demand. We are now paying the price.

    In reality, those with bargaining power will get their desserts – those at the bottom will be even poorer off.

    PS rail workers are not at the bottom.

  • How should a 9.1% pay rise be paid for, Brad? Bigger government subsidies? Or higher fares?
    Joseph B, I don’t know if you use trains and are aware of what fares cost already. But if ‘users have to pay market prices’, it would drive (literally) even more passengers off the trains and into their cars.
    I suspect the reason Ed’s words are ‘wishy-washy’ is that there is no simple solution. And unless there is a way to give ALL workers, in all sectors, a 9.1% pay rise, what is needed is ways to reduce inflation.
    Any ideas, anyone?

  • David Evans 22nd Jun '22 - 6:07pm

    Cassie, Maybe, just maybe lower profits?

  • David Evans 22nd Jun '22 - 6:16pm

    David Raw – Interesting to see that Total Facilities Recruitment can’t get writers who can correctly state time in an advert. “2nd candidate to do 2pm-20pm” I wonder how many intermediary companies are taking their cut from the money that our wonderful government allocate on our behalf to their friends in commerce?

  • Brad Barrows 22nd Jun '22 - 6:29pm

    @Chris Moore
    I am not aware of any group achieving an above inflation wage increase this year. Even the rail workers have just asked for 7% despite inflation being 9.1%. The only group who will be getting inflation matching increases will be pensioners.

  • Cassie 22nd Jun ’22 – 5:24pm……How should a 9.1% pay rise be paid for, Brad? Bigger government subsidies? Or higher fares?…..
    (
    How should those Network Rail employees, like David Raw’s examples. (already having to choose between ‘heating and eating’) deal with 10% inflation on a 2% pay rise?

    BTW ..Scrooge had one answer..

  • David E.. I’m no expert, but: Total rail industry income in 2020-21 was £20.7bn.
    Total expenditure £21bn. (Office of Rail and Road).
    I didn’t read the rest, but other sources put UK rail profits at 2%.
    Network Rail is owned by the UK government. Transport for Wales is owned by the Welsh Government. Does either make a profit?
    The franchise system is broken, with little incentive for private firms to bid. In any case, the UK government wants to cut subsidies to the private firms and is demanding ‘tougher performance targets and lower management fees’.
    ….Brad, so pensioners will end up with less than 2/3 of the minimum wage. After the giddy heights of an extra £4.25/£5.55 a week this year.

  • Expats. How will rail commuters already having to choose between ‘heating and eating’ deal with increased train fares? We’d all love decent wages all round and no cost of living crisis for anyone. The fact remains: who pays for it?

  • Public support the strike. Savanta poll 57 -35. Very unexpected but backed up by public comments at stations when interviewed by the media.
    Is this a case of “another fine mess you have got us into” from the Government.

  • David Evans 22nd Jun '22 - 7:51pm

    Cassie, You are probably right in the general point you’re making, but when you have an organisation that is totally supported by a central government blank cheque, there are lots of ways of spending money in ways to reduce reported profits. Directors Salaries and bonus, people employed to specifically to identify ways of increasing government payments, timing of expenditures and accruals etc etc) are all things we need to be aware of, and the rail companies need to be squeezed quite a bit to keep them honest.

  • James Fowler 22nd Jun '22 - 7:55pm

    Strikes aren’t really an issue where the LDs can offer much leadership – we probably represent all the people who just wish it would go away but are only peripherally have any skin in the game on either side. A few observations:

    The position of asking for wage increases with no reform is as untenable as demanding both efficiency reforms and wage cuts.

    It’s also completely incoherent to grant state pension increases several multiples higher than public sector pay and then insist that wage increases are unaffordable and dangerously inflationary.

    Holding down wages does not lead to a ‘high skilled, high wage’ economy.

  • George Thomas 22nd Jun '22 - 8:14pm

    “The Liberal Democrats are against the rail strikes”

    Does that mean the Lib Dems think Unions have been too quick to go on strike, or that the deal they’re being proposed is good enough, or that simply Ed Davey doesn’t want to appear to be on side of disruption as a by-product of the strikes? The last option would be quite a pathetic basis to make that statement.

    Crossrail went at least £2.8 billion over budget, HS2 is going billions of pounds over budget with such necessary chunks of it missing (connection to Scotland, connection to Bradford) or never included (anything in Wales), we’re seeing headlines about banker’s bonusses and landlord bringing yet another extreme rent hike, and working people get NI rise and being told not to ask for a pay-rise. At some point, after the last decade where an extreme wealth gap opened up, the idea that those on average wage or less should carry the responsibility of getting the UK through this latest crisis becomes too much to take. Especially as the climate crisis is going to be increasingly experienced within this decade and beyond.

  • James, this is all off-topic, but… the trouble is, if you complain about pensions rises being high, the government won’t say ‘ooh, yes, sorry’ and increase public sector pay to match. We saw this year that such complaints of unfairness led (only) to the pension rise being cut.

  • Mick Taylor 22nd Jun '22 - 9:12pm

    No-one wants to go on strike. In my working life I was on strike twice, once when I was a young teacher and once when I was a university lecturer. We were on strike, in both cases, because the employers wouldn’t negotiate seriously. Eventually talks restarted, without preconditions, and we got a settlement, which by the nature of these things was a compromise with neither side getting all they wanted. The problem with this lot of negotiations is that Network Rail has had its negotiating ability emasculated by the government and unless they are freed to negotiate the best settlement they can, then these strikes will only be the beginning.
    As to paying for any settlement. The government can, and regularly does, borrow money from the Bank of England. The simply means a debit in the books of the BoE and a credit in the government account. As any student of Modern Monetary Economics knows a currency issuer like the UK can do this PROVIDED THEY ALSO TAKE ALL NECESSARY STEPS TO CONTROL INFLATION.
    Our party, like most others in the UK has been brainwashed into believing that spending money now is a burden on future generations. It’s not. There has been a fluctuating National Debt for hundreds of years and it’s never been paid off and never will be.

  • James Fowler 22nd Jun '22 - 9:14pm

    Well Cassie, we’re either all in this together – or some people get a special pass. Which is it to be?

  • David Evershed 22nd Jun '22 - 9:45pm

    John Leach 12.13pm

    The benefits of higher productivity are shared between employees. customers and business owners.

    More pertinently the consequences of failing to improve productivity over the last decade or more are shared by employees, customers and business owners. That’s you and me.

  • James: are you saying no one should get a decent rise if there are other people who can’t? ‘Age UK estimates one in six pensioners are in poverty (about 2 million people) and their purchasing power is declining’ (May 2022). Keeping them in poverty won’t help teachers or nurses, will it?
    Back at 5.42, I pointed out that the real problem is inflation. Surely THAT is what we should be seeking solutions to? Rather than pitting one section of ordinary people against another?

  • Joseph Bourke 22nd Jun '22 - 11:22pm

    Cassie,

    I do use trains and am aware of what fares cost. If ‘users have to pay market prices’, it would drive more passengers off the trains if there are no tax changes. However, as I commented above – one policy we can and should advocate is that employers be allowed to reimburse the cost of public transport for their staff tax free (just as they can pay travel expenses and mileage allowances tax free for business travel). Not having to pay tax and NI on that part of your wages that goes on rail fares would reduce the net outlay by 33.25% for most workers, more for higher rate payers. This is what happens in Japan where the rail system is privatised. Anyone who has ever tried to get on a train during rush hour in Tokyo would welcome less passengers on the trains there.

  • Laurence Cox 22nd Jun '22 - 11:55pm

    “It’s also completely incoherent to grant state pension increases several multiples higher than public sector pay and then insist that wage increases are unaffordable and dangerously inflationary.”

    It does surprise me that some Lib Dems seem to delight in attacking pensioners. If we look at the facts, as set out in the most recent House of Commons Library briefing (March 2022): https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN00290/SN00290.pdf

    In 2019 the UK had 15.5% of those above state pension age living in poverty on the OECD definition, compared with 12.4% of the whole population (p. 19). Those in poverty are likely to be reliant on the State Pension, but James Fowler thinks that giving them an increase to keep them up with inflation is too generous, even though that inflation increase will be based on the September 2022 figure, while the pensioners won’t get it until April 2023.

  • Nonconformistradical 23rd Jun '22 - 7:41am

    “one policy we can and should advocate is that employers be allowed to reimburse the cost of public transport for their staff tax free (just as they can pay travel expenses and mileage allowances tax free for business travel).”
    Agree

  • Peter Watson 23rd Jun '22 - 9:03am

    @Joseph Bourke “one policy we can and should advocate is that employers be allowed to reimburse the cost of public transport for their staff tax free”
    I’m not clear whether you are suggesting that the tax-free reimbursement should be in addition to salary (“just as they can pay travel expenses and mileage allowances tax free for business travel”) or part of it, e.g. a salary sacrifice scheme (“not having to pay tax and NI on that part of your wages”).

  • @ Joseph Bourke “Not having to pay tax and NI on that part of your wages that goes on rail fares would reduce the net outlay by 33.25% for most workers”.

    Why should I, as a resident in a rural part of Scotland, have to subsidise through my taxes, commuters who travel in to the City of London (and probably earn three or four times my income) from their comfy home counties ?

  • @ Ian Shires Well said, Ian. Me too.

  • @Ian Shires – In the Guardian article, Ed does come across as a Conservative apologist and seems to want the Government to introduce a modern version of the Statute of Labourers Act…

    As for his “The solution to such distressing stories is clear: instead of strikes, there should be dialogue between government ministers and union bosses.”, I just don’t see how the Government sitting down with union bosses will have any impact whatsoever on the difficulties the “anguished people” Ed has been hearing from.

    So this piece seems to be more about simply jumping up and down to remind people the LibDems exist, rather than to inform. Depresssing, given what Charles Kennedy achieved in the 1990’s…

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Jun '22 - 2:12pm

    Arguments relating to productivity have no imediate bearing on this dispute. We need to regard a rail sevice as a public service. Yes, efficiency, but humanity also.

    If our dear friend David Raw is posting an advert from the most typical striking worker, by all means we ought to support those worker driven actions.

    My belief is, like the junior doctors, strikes are inapropriate here, even if the demands are correct. Are they though? If those on strike are typically paid thity eight thousand, we need to know. Nobody in a secure and skilled job wich effects public service, ought to strike unless it is about safety. Is this? I read it might impact on safety. Can anyone convince me this is caring low paid staff concerned about our well being with regard to safety?

    I belive Ed is on the fence only in that he, like me believes it is wrong to strike if it effects lives, but also, like me, thinks this govt is abysmal. He only says the second and would not admit the first.

    It is the poor cleaner I support. Are they even involved as employess in this?

  • Matt (Bristol) 23rd Jun '22 - 2:18pm

    As John Leach says, Ed Davey’s comments seem again led by the desire to project the party as triangulationary centrists who will ‘split the difference’ between Tory and Labour whatever the issue. This is of course exactly what many ex-Tory voters in Tiverton and Honiton want to hear. Whether this is objectively true is entirely another question, across a raft of policies. I do fear you are storing up troubles for yourselves here.

    The spectacle of a Liberal party with a strong pro-sex-work, permissive-on-pornography faction deluging a rural constituency with a strong moralist / traditionalist / small-c conservative culture with activists from metropotlian (and yes, also rural) areas where the culture is markedly different, in order to ride the wave generated by outrage at an MP watching porn in the Commons, has been … interesting.

    Muttering ‘but localism’ won’t get you out of the illogical coalition you’re reassembling, longterm, and won’t protect you from the next Clegg / tuition fees / betrayal narrative, whatever it is and wherever it attacks you from.

  • Mick Taylor 23rd Jun '22 - 2:39pm

    Strikes could be avoided altogether if we had compulsory arbitration when pay talks break down, as many countries do for their public sector workers. There could possibly also be pendulum arbitration when the arbitrators plump for one side’s position, which it is thought stops both sides from taking extreme positions. The problem is that the government must will the means for such a system and this shower certainly won’t. In fact I think they want these strikes in the belief that they will drive people back to the Tories.
    Some of us are old enough to remember when another Tory government faced high inflation and strikes and indeed when a Labour government faced similar problems. Somehow, it’s always the poorest whose wage rise cannot be afforded, whilst city slickers and plutocrats – who argue that higher wages cannot be afforded – are allowed to earn whatever they want.
    Incidentally, it really is time to stop this pensioner bashing. My state pension, along with most other pensioners, is around £8000 a year, hardly a king’s ransom and is amongst the lowest in Europe. For those pensioners who were not in a position to fund a work related pension, this is poverty level. Let’s focus on the real target, the over generous give aways to the very rich – the Tory’s friends – the ridiculously low levels of tax on the very rich and the ability to get out of paying tax at all.

  • Steve Trevethan 23rd Jun '22 - 2:46pm
  • British Airways workers based at Heathrow have voted to strike in a dispute over pay.

    Is Ed against this too? The way things are going he’ll have a busy summer..

    BTW..From first reports it seems that the ‘fire and rehire’ strategy went too far when directors and senior staff had their pay and conditions returned to pre-Covid levels and the ‘PBI’ were expected to absorb the damage..

  • Brad Barrows 22nd Jun ’22 – 4:28pm:
    It is not unreasonable for unions to seek to maintain the value of their previously agreed level of wages by seeking a pay increase that compensates for the effect of inflation.

    Perhaps not, but it is unreasonable to do that and retain absurdly archaic working practices and keep the same number of jobs when the industry has been hit with a huge £2 billion a year drop in revenue due to a societal change to working from home and holding meetings online.

  • Joseph Bourke 23rd Jun '22 - 4:37pm

    Peter Watson,

    one common benefit many employers offer is season ticket loans. I would suggest that rather than a loan employers be allowed to reimburse public transport commuting costs tax free. There is in fact a salary sacrifice Cycle to work scheme that currently exists . However, for expense reimbursements I would expect many employers would offer it as part of a benefits package akin to gym memberships or private medical insurance.
    David Raw asks “Why should I, as a resident in a rural part of Scotland, have to subsidise through my taxes, commuters who travel in to the City of London (and probably earn three or four times my income) from their comfy home counties ? The answer is the same reason you subsidise rail and bus services via government grants to private companies now, David (NB; these subsidies would end with the introduction of this tax reform). PS: you may have noticed Boris Johnson and other Tory ministers cycling about Westminster. Chances are you are subsidising the purchase of these bikes now (as well as paying their salaries and other expenses).

  • Lorenzo, rail cleaners are typically employed by cleaning contractors and not the train companies. There was in fact a strike of cleaners in February this year Striking rail cleaners protest outside Parliament
    RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said then: ‘The rail industry make a lot of noise about how important they think cleaning is, but the reality is that they and the government turn a blind eye to gross exploitation by outsourcing companies like Churchill. This is a company that is handing out dividends, while paying cleaners poverty wages and refusing to pay sick pay when they get ill. These unprecedented strikes show that members have had enough and won’t take it any longer.’
    The fact is cleaning is always likely to be a minimum wage job. As a socially liberal party our focus should be on maintaining an adequate level of minimum wages; generous work allowances for those on in-work benefits and a minimum guaranteed income (in place of statutory sick pay) coupled with an unconditional minimum wage job guarantee program to provide socially useful work for anyone who needs help finding work.
    Union bosses complain about companies paying dividends while at the same time arguing for protected pensions while ignoring the fact that the pension companies rely on dividends to pay their annuities. The rail companies generate relatively modest returns on investment, so dividend cuts would likely starve them of capital as happened with nationalised railways. As always, we need some economically savvy policymakers to deliver thought through policies that can produce efficient services ad equitable results for workers, retirees and investors alike.

  • @ Joe Bourke It’s not just about dividends propping up pension funds – it’s also about social justice, inequality and exploitation. Research into the company records, and credit checks is revealing.

    Churchill’s profits during the pandemic could fund a 50% pay rise for the 1,000 rail cleaners who balloted for action this year, The contracts include Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern, Southeastern, High Speed 1 and Eurostar.

    Cleaners are tasked to ensure trains are safe for public use (in pandemics cleaners are at high risk). Churchill’s main subsidiary employing the cleaners, Churchill Contract Services Ltd, made a profit of £11.1 million last year paying a dividend of £12 million to the parent company. Directors drew personal dividends of £3.8 million – but cleaners are on £ 9.50 per hour.

    This year Directors report profits, “exceeded expectations and forecasts” and wish to buy up more competitor companies. The Group brought in private equity fund investment of £25 million from ESO Capital Partners, a Swiss company with subsidiaries based in overseas tax havens including Jersey. Credit checks reveal two of Churchill’s directors have a joint net personal worth totalling £ 233 million.

    Refs, Churchill Contract Services Ltd Annual report, financial statements, June 2020 and 2021.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Jun '22 - 10:18pm

    Cheers Joe, good reaction.

    I favour the facts, being shared. It seems nobody in this dispute is on poverty salaries. If they are, please and this for anyone, let us have info!

  • Jeff 23rd Jun ’22 – 3:46pm………….. but it is unreasonable to do that and retain absurdly archaic working practices and keep the same number of jobs when the industry has been hit with a huge £2 billion a year drop in revenue due to a societal change to working from home and holding meetings online……

    If that argument is correct then LibDem support for the HS2 project is misplaced…I have always considered the London/Birmingham part to be a 20th century answer to a problem that is already out of its time.

  • ……Johnson and Shapps pretend they can’t end the rail strikes..That’s nonsense..

    Well our own Munira Wilson seems to have her own ideas (unless she is speaking for the party)..
    She has told the BBC that the way forward is for the Conservative government to ‘work with the army and others to put contingency plans in place’ should the strikes continue. saying ‘exceptional times call for exceptional measures.’

    Shapp’s agency staff idea was bad enough; but bringing in the army for heaven’s sake?

  • David Evans 26th Jun '22 - 8:19pm

    Jeff, you say “Perhaps not, but it is unreasonable to [seek a pay increase that compensates for the effect of inflation] and retain absurdly archaic working practices and keep the same number of jobs .”

    Do you have any evidence that the RMT are proposing “retaining absurdly archaic working practices” or even to “keep the same number of jobs”? I haven’t seen anything saying or even just implying this other than from the usual suspects – certain partisan and ill informed newspapers and politicians seeking to blame the other side rather than get things sorted.

  • William Francis 28th Jun '22 - 9:00pm

    Maybe, and me out on this… we call on the government and the train companies to offer an above-inflation pay rise to the rail workers, and then the strike will end. The strikes aren’t natural disasters that need prepping for, they are human creations and can be resolved via a measure of reasonableness and decency?

    In the face of industrial action in previous decades, Liberals claimed the solution was industrial democracy in the form of co-ownership, not faux neutrality or using the army.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • George Thomas
    "I wonder how many voters in any of the recent by-elections have quoted attacks on devolution and breaking down of relationship between different nations within...
  • John Roffey
    Since this article is about plain speaking - I came across this 'most liked' post in the comments section of an article by Nigel Farage in the Telegraph: "I ...
  • Hireton
    Mandate The Scottish parties which support a referendum gained seats at the 2021 Scottish General Election and the UK parties which oppose it lost seats. Th...
  • John Roffey
    I thought this short video from the Dalai Lama provided much needed hope on Climate Change: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i52NqV00Os...
  • Brad Barrows
    @ John Barrett Yes 60% of Scottish exports go to England under the current arrangement of Scotland in the UK but not in the EU. Most Irish exports used to be w...