Political opinion with Cllr Karen Constantine: Seeing Red – RMT action and cost of living crisis

RMT picket at Ramsgate

Last week was quite a week. Not only have Covid cases started to soar in Thanet (please do take care – lots of hands, face, space, again please !) We also had three successful days of picketing at Ramsgate Railway Station. Not to mention two pretty humongous by-elections results which may well impact local politics. I wasn’t surprised at the strong Labour result in Wakefield and the positive outcome for the Liberals in Tiverton & Honiton. If replicated across the country at the next General Election, the swing of 12.7% to Labour would see Labour win an overall majority at the next General Election.

That’s quite a bit to digest.

Meanwhile our Prime Minister remains dogged by issue after issue. I believe it’s entirely proportional, and fair, to point out that Boris Johnson, has more than 51 of his own MPs actively called for him to step down. They believe Johnson is pulling the Conservatives and the country down as we spiral into an ever-deepening mire of controversy and muddled political thinking.

The cacophony of those desperately calling for a new Conservative Party leader includes Tory Stalwart, North Thanet’s own Roger Gale MP. Shortly before being due on air on Friday 24th June to discuss his Party’s election performance, Conservative party chairman Oliver Dowdon simply bailed, writing a surprise resignation letter to his Conservative counterparts. Strange really as only a week or so earlier he was singing Boris’s praises. I wonder exactly what happened in the intervening period? South Thanet’s own MP Craig Mackinlay, Chair of climate change denying Net Zero Group is silent on the matter, concentrating instead in trying to persuade us that going green to save the planet is unnecessary. (Good luck with that!)

Given that we are in the middle of a frightening cost of living crisis, with the highest taxation for 70 years, inflation is at its highest rate for 40 years, and RPI is at a staggering 11% and rising, it’s easy to understand why people are turning back to Labour.

What has Johnson’s most recent policy response been to this crisis? Well, he’s lifted the cap on bankers bonuses. As the rest of us struggle to manage and ever more children, 4M at the last count, are plunged into poverty, bankers can again earn unfettered amounts.

I can well understand and sympathise with the RMT. I was proud to join them on the picket line. A union of 82,000 workers who undertake all sorts of vital roles on the railway. From safety critical roles like checking the tracks, to selling tickets, to OBMs – on board managers. I’ve spoken to them all this week.

So what is the RMT fuss about? After all, we are all in it together, and didn’t Boris Johnson promise we’d all ‘build back better’? That, after all the clapping, public sector workers wouldn’t be forgotten, for valiantly working to get us through the Covid crisis. He did indeed. It turns out though, that railway workers, have only been offered a derisory 2% pay rise and an additional 1% contingent on accepting other significant changes. To enjoy this reward – which is in fact a 6% real terms pay cut – they are expected to work 39 hours instead of 35, to undertake additional unsociable hours, and face unlimited redundancies, on top of the 2,900 currently being sought. Not forgetting of course, the Government want to close all ticket offices in favour of a completely automated system. RMT are concerned that these changes will impact safety, both ours, the travelling public and theirs.

There seems to be a pattern emerging. Yet again the Government is passing the burden of its own mismanagement of the economy onto the ordinary worker. Elsewhere in industry bosses are doing the opposite and it’s working out extremely well for them. So well in fact, that top bosses pay has skyrocketed. According to the High Pay Centre, in 1979 the boss of BP was paid 16.5 times the amount of the firm’s average employee. In 2019 the Chief Executive of BP earned 188 times the amount. Likewise the boss of Barclays earned £87,323 in 1979 – 14.5 times the wage of the average employee – by 2019 he was earning £5.9million or 140 times that of the average worker. To add insult to injury rail firms shelled out £500m to shareholders whilst expecting workers to stomach a pay cut.

During Covid the airline companies, were ‘offloading’ staff, up to 43% of staff were ‘mothballed’ – hence the current staff shortages and resulting chaos at our airports. Now we’re seeing more Chief Executives being given eye watering pay rises. The Chief Executive of Birmingham Airport has been given a 49% pay rise.

Nick Barton’s annual wage has risen from £399,000 to £595,000. Heathrow’s CE has received an annual salary increase of 85% to almost £1.5m a year, and the boss at Manchester Airport Group had a pay rise of 25% to £2.5m.

But staff shortages, among security staff in particular, are causing a real headache for the aviation industry. Airlines are now fighting to get staff back. But after throwing workers on the scrap heap and decreased pay on offer they are struggling. That’s not exactly a surprise to most of us!

Let’s hope the RMT can soon settle the dispute and that a reasonable pay cost of living wage offer is made. If you don’t support the RMT and their fight to improve their pay, terms and conditions and maintaining safety. I suggest you consider that the spiralling cost of food, fuel and energy and out of control inflation are not ordinary peoples’ fault.

Why should we pay the price for a mismanaged economy?


  1. COVID face n space you say… Look at the picture of your picket ..
    Hypocrite and fear mongering. Do as we say but I am not doing it cus I am above it … politicians!

      • If you want to engage in any social activity, such as go to a concert, a party, a wedding, a Christening, a funeral a stag night, a cruise etc etc, then you really, really don’t want to catch Covid. It won’t kill you or leave you with long covid (if you’re fortunate) but you will more than likely feel pretty dreadful for a few days. You certainly won’t feel like dancing or drinking the night away, and you won’t want to spread it to elderly or very young relatives.
        So, currently, anyone having any plans to do anything with anyone other than themselves over the next few weeks (at least) should stick to less crowded places, and/or wear a mask.

      • “Anti-Science”! Where do you get that from?
        “Conspiracy Theorist”. Where did that phrase originate? (Hint: Same place as “Collateral Damage” and “Plausible Deniability”)

        • Tosh. Must be awful being a conspiracy t heorist and believing in this depressing world-view.

        • Well I’m 61. I had it in February 2020. Not very pleasant, but I’ve had worse flu and chicken pox at 27 was significantly less pleasant or inconvenient. Definitely had it February this year. Had worse colds.
          Stop your troll nudging.

    • The picket was almost a couple of weeks ago, in the open air, when covid rates were much lower than they are today.

    • “… sensible and very cautious…”, is not, “… good for everyone…”. Biology teaches us this.
      What may be good for an individual – caring for someone with a serious heritable condition to the point where they can pass their genes on to another generation – is not necessarily good for the population as a whole.
      Look at the reported increasing incidences of childhood asthma/excema in this country. Conveniently blamed on “air pollution” by “health professionals”, the Media and “scientists”. When anyone, like myself, who remembers how much worse all pollution was half a century ago. The Thames was officially “Dead”. No catalytic convertors. Coal fired and coal-fired power stations.
      In reality, cleaner air, cleaner homes and the successful use of steroid medications has greatly increased the life expectancy of those born with a genetic predisposition to asthma.
      Some truths are difficult to bear. The more cosseted people become, the more difficult these become to bear. Metaphorically putting one’s fingers in one ears and repeating, “La!”, will not protect the Human future from Evolution by Natural Selection. Ask Professor Steve Jones. Author of “The Language of the Genes”.

      For those at the other end of the age spectrum a different situation occurs. Check out the biggest cause of death in the U.K. on the Office of National Statistics website. It’s not heart disease, cancer or any coronavirus. Longevity and happiness and health are not common bedfellows. When my maternal grandfather – a Jutland veteran – died forty odd years ago, he’d been demented for a decade. My late mother – a former hospital matron – said at the time that she’d rather die than endure such a demise. Unfortunately, due to well meaning pharmaceutical engineers and medical professionals, her miserable, confused demise at the age of 93 in 2020 had lasted fifteen years!

  2. Why make winning two by elections such big news ,wait for the next general election then gloat if by some miracle you oust Boris.

    • This covid strain is mild. It doesn’t kill as many people as Delta did.
      It does still kill, and people still suffer long covid.
      Because so many people “Do whatever [they] feel is right for [them]” many vulnerable people become prisoners, because it simply isn’t safe for them to travel on a crowded bus to a busy supermarket.
      Doing what is right for you has consequences for others.

  3. Oh you poor thing!!! We the public are more concern about our Heath and how the Covid cases are increasing but having said that the cientists were right in saying”herd immunity “ is necessary.
    Vulnerable people need to take extra care.
    You seem to be concerned on your political issues and winning the next election instead of tackling important issues that’s happening right night!!
    All leaders seem to have a “solution” a WASTE of time!!!
    Live in the Now!!

    • Exactly Lucy. If we were still having constant lockdowns to try to eradicate the disease, then we’d be in the same situation as China (though I sometimes think some of the local hard left would like that!).

      • Indeed Peter, everyone is responsible for their own health, the vulnerable are taking extra care and also their families are very well aware of the situation.
        Autumn will be a good testing time as to how we stand we Covid over the last 3years. As the PM says “ we have to live with Covid in years to come”, this is by no means over yet and I can hear a lot of cases on the increase, I will continue wearing my mask specially on the buses that are fully packed, it’s worrying!

        • I’ve stopped worrying about it. If a (nearly) 79 year old Mick Jagger with his dicky ticker can run around on a London stage for 2 hours just a week after catching Covid, then you know this Covid strain is mild! But yes, do whatever you feel is right for you.

          • This covid strain is mild. It doesn’t kill as many people as Delta did.
            It does still kill, and people still suffer long covid.
            Because so many people “Do whatever [they] feel is right for [them]” many vulnerable people become prisoners, because it simply isn’t safe for them to travel on a crowded bus to a busy supermarket.
            Doing what is right for you has consequences for others.

          • Fortunately, we’re not in Beijing, where people REALLY become prisoners in their own homes.

            Wonderful to see Wimbledon, Glastonbury, Hyde Park and all these other big events back to normal.

          • but there are too many people who “do whatever they feelis right” for them instead of doing what’s right for everybody, i.e being very sensible and cautious.

  4. Karen forgot to mention the 20,000 unnecessary deaths that occurred because Boris wanted to empty hospital beds full of elderly people who still had Covid, so he sent then back to their Care homes, to infect vulnerable elderly people, Duurh! Of course this could be easily excused if he was suffering from a hangover, after one of his parties!

  5. I’m sorry folk’s but most of (not all) todays politicians and the unions are only interested in self- gain. They couldn’t care less who it affects in the process.
    It’s the upside-down world we live in today.

  6. The purpose of Opposition politics is to hold Government to account.
    The purpose of Government is to govern.
    If Labour seriously wishes to be elected to Government then, it will need to ditch the Opposition politics. It needs to set out a precise, unambiguous stall. One which will bear a future Opposition’s scrutiny. Don’t see much of that yet?
    Mind you. Neither of the main parties really want victory at the next general election. The cycle cal global economic crash is almost with us again. Same as the late noughties, early nineties, mid-seventies and late fifties. Good time for another war or pandemic to mask its effects!😂

  7. For 59 of my 61 years, everyone went to school, work, parties, weddings, funerals, on holiday, etc whilst they had coronaviruses of all descriptions. Every winter, the very aged and the frail got colds & flus, which morphed into pneumonia and died. It’s called “normal”.
    Two hundred years ago, the son of an English vicar wrote a book that allowed us to understand why and how species evolve. A kind of antithesis of irateocracy. It’s Truth will long outlive those in white coats today who, like Canute’s courtiers, believe it is possible to hold back the mighty Ocean.

    • Andrew.
      Are you a Chinese medical professional and part-time reservist friend of Tom Tugenhadt in the 77th Battalion, on secondment to the Downing St. Behavioural Insights Team?
      If not, then your recent postings indicate that it might be a good next career move for you!

        • Catch up Marva. Harry Webb is on the ball. But I think the 77th Brigade won’t bother with any recruits here…. but then the false illusion of choice of political parties is always an old chestnut to continue. And nobody notices the billions of pounds laundered out of the UK to laughingly support the Ukraine and the arms dealers and Western influencers there.

    • That is a sensible solution . The WHO and SAGE were making all the decisions and without a doubt Boris was damned as if he followed Swedens solution( No Lockdowns ) then he would have been blamed for every Covid linked death. The Rules became Law and were muddled , complex, and problematic . Interpreted by the Police , sometimes strict, sometimes not so strict. It was impossible to get it correct. Sir Kier would have done no better for sure

  8. And I’ll be watching the Stones in Hyde Park, Sunday week.
    Along with 100k others who haven’t yet been brainwashed into conforming with the Chinese Communist Party 5 year plan.
    “Please permit me to introduce myself…”

  9. Three or more years ago, an unbrainwashed choir with a coronavirus would have simply sung regardless. Unafraid and guilt-free of any consequences. The way things had been since time immemorial and before Behavioural Economists began to nudge people into ridiculous decisions.

    • You don’t know what you are talking about.
      When I had coronavirus a few weeks ago, I could hardly speak for three days, let alone sing.
      All it would take would be for a soloist or two, or the front row of the tenors, to go down with this (or any other) respiratory disease, and the concert’s off.

  10. How bloody insulting of you to say that Thanet Festival Choir is brainwashed. Don’t you know anything about science?

  11. I know enough to know the difference between Science, pharmaceutical engineers and gravy train riding Behavioural Economists!😁

  12. Marva.
    You have a device in your hand with access to a search engine?
    Why not investigate for yourself?
    Go on! Dare you!

    • No.I am sitting in front of a desk with a computer on it. And there’s no way I would do anything which was recommended to me by anti-science conspiracy theorists.

  13. Thanks Democrat!
    Darwin’s Theory.
    Jones’ tome used in graduate education.
    My own pet theory. Based upon observation and deduction.
    Who else on this thread has quoted anything “Science” at all? Certainly not little ol’ name calling you!😂😂😂

  14. Meanwhile, Behavioural Psychologist Andrew, with his gentle, Junior School Teacher style has ceased nudging all and sundry to Communitarian compliance. His/her veil having slipped momentarily. Will he return as “Andrea”? Or another identity next week?
    I have little doubt that across a number of local newspapers regionally or, listed alphabetically, he/she puts in thirty seven hours twenty four minutes each week posting similar mild mannered “personal opinions”. Garnering unwitting support for his views from scared militant sheep across the Region/alphabet as he goes.
    Have a nice weekend Andrew! 😁

    • Is that what Andrew’s job is? The only Andrew I know lives in East Anglia and the one commenting here is certainly not him – I don’t suppose he is even aware of this paper’s existence.

    • Alternatively seen as those who question the very one sided narrative that’s pushed upon us. Be that covid or global warming.

  15. The hysterical screaming when a person knocks a ball back over a net to a person who knocked it over the net in first place is…hysterical.

    Bordering on some mass psychological episode.

    Does Wimbledon have in-house psychiatrists for the ‘fans’

    Bread and circus?

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