RMT statement to European conference of rail trades unionists

We congratulate participants attending this conference and contributing to this vital discussion. We welcome the support this initiative has received from the European Transport Workers Federation.

We send solidarity to all trade unionists fighting privatisation and liberalisation.

We hope that all participants at today’s conference and those who could not attend will continue this dialogue and cooperation in appropriate forums in the near future so that we maximise the exchange of information and coordinate our future activities.

We believe the consequences of rail privatisation, liberalisation and fragmentation are:

  • Attacks on rail safety, pay, conditions, pensions, trade union organisation and collective bargaining

  • The abandonment of the social railway in favour of a railway run solely in the interests of big business and where the profit motive becomes the only criteria for delivering rail services.

  • A more expensive, less efficient railway, where profit comes before the needs of the community.

We therefore condemn:

  • Those EU directives, including the various railway packages which are increasingly leading to the privatisation of Europe’s railways and a so-called liberalisation process that is leading to less democratic accountability and the growth of private rail monopolies.

  • Those Governments, EU Institutions, the World Bank and other financial institutions which are increasingly making privatisation, liberalisation and fragmentation of the railways a condition of funding.

We believe that, unless effectively challenged, the employers’ attacks on workers through liberalisation and privatisation will be assisted by the recent Viking, Laval and Ruffert judgments in the European Court of Justice which represent a fundamental attack on collective bargaining and the right to strike.

We therefore support and urge the ETF to call a European wide demonstration by trade unions representing rail workers before the end of 2008 and during the French Presidency of the European Union. The purpose of the demonstration will be to:

  • Protest against the privatisation and liberalisation of our railways

  • Argue for publicly owned railways that put people before profit

  • Protest against social dumping and call for the defence of trade union rights and national collective bargaining.

To achieve this end we agree to:

  • Coordinate our activities and work together to maximise participation by rail workers’ trade unions in an ongoing discussion about the effects of EU rail liberalisation policies.

  • Work with other progressive organisations and social movements that share our aims.

London, 17 June 2008

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