Who RMT union leader Mick Lynch is and what he has said about the rail strikes

by 24britishtvJune 21, 2022, 6 p.m. 17
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Strikes have started across Britain’s rail network after last-ditch talks between unions and rail bosses failed on Monday.

The three-day walkout will be Britain’s most widespread industrial action this century, reducing services by about 80 per cent.

The strikes have been organised by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), as well as the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (Aslef).

RMT general-secretary Mick Lynch has been front and centre in the media this week, representing rail workers after they voted overwhelmingly for action last month in a disputes over pay and job losses.

Here’s what you need to know about him.

Mr Lynch was born to Irish parents in 1962, and grew up in Paddington in west London.

He left school at 16 to train as an electrician, before moving into construction. He joined a union but this led to him being illegally blacklisted. He received a large compensation package for this 20 years later.

After leaving construction Mr Lynch got a job working at Eurostar in 1993. There he became an active member of the RMT.

He served two terms as assistant general secretary of the RMT before taking the role of acting general secretary in 2020, when Mick Cash took time off for ill health.

In May 2021 he stood for election to become the permanent general secretary – he was elected to the position.

What has he said about the rail strikes?

The RMT is seeking improved pay, and has said that rail staff who worked through the pandemic have faced pay freezes and hundreds of job cuts.

Mr Lynch said ahead of the strikes: “Railway workers have been treated appallingly and despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry with the support of the Government has failed to take their concerns seriously.

“We have a cost of living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1 per cent and rising.

“Our union will now embark on a sustained campaign of industrial action which will shut down the railway system.”

He has said the union will “run this campaign for as long as it takes to get a settlement” – possibly for more than six months.

The RMT is seeking a pay rise of at least 7 per cent, in line with the rise in the cost of living.

“We have to fight this because we haven’t had any pay rises, we are faced with thousands of job cuts and they want to rip up our terms and conditions in a form of hire and rehire that is internal to the railway,” Mr Lynch said.

“If there is not a settlement we will continue our campaign. I think there are going to be many more unions balloting across the country because people can’t take it any more.”

He called the strikes a “mess created by Grant Shapps and Government policy”.

Mr Shapps, the Transport Secretary, told Sky News the walkouts were “unnecessary” and were “taking us back to the bad old days of union strikes”.

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