Transport unions, including RMT, are preparing for joint day of coordinated strike action against EU-wide privatisation scheme


Transport unions from all over Europe yesterday descended on the European Parliament to call for an end to EU-driven privatisation of public transport across the continent.

Twenty unions representing thousands of transport workers, from Britain, France, Portugal, Cyprus and Italy Spain took over the centre of Brussels with a static rally and protest.

The show of militancy is part of an on-going campaign by trade unions opposing the European Commission’s Transport White Paper, which will open up domestic passenger rail services, bus, and metro and ferry services to private companies.

EU commissioners plan to create “single European transport network” which transport workers argue will be dominated by private sector monopoly interests and lead to cuts in pay, more expensive services for passengers and maximum profits for big business.

Playing a key role in organising the event, the 200-strong RMT delegation toured the city speaking to local people before assembling outside the Parliament.

Addressing the rally, RMT general secretary Bob Crow insisted workers needed to go on the front foot against the EU diktats.

He said: “Today is an opportunity to raise consciousness of working people – if we are really going to stop these people then we have to take joint action not just in Europe but the world as well.

“Brothers and sisters – my message on behalf of our union – is the only way we will stop these people… we have to take industrial action.”

Other unions present at the demonstration were eager to express their solidarity.

European Regional office representative for the World Federation of Trades Unions and member of the Pan-Cyprian Federation of Labour (PEO) Pieris Pieri explained that the EU “wanted to put transport under control of capital.”

Calling for “class orientated trade unionism” Mr Pieri said: “Public transport should be run in the public interest.

“There is only one reply to this onslaught by big capital – the struggle of the working class is intensifying – the trade union movement must provide a powerful answer.”

Italian trade union USB national secretary for the private sector Francesu Staccioli said the rally was “building to a massive day of action” across Europe – although he would not reveal the details or date of the industrial action.

Blistering sunshine and a welcoming reception from locals and even the police greeted the trade unionists.

And younger members of the delegation spoke to UnionNews about their experiences of the event.

RMT branch secretary Willesden Emma Baldwin said: “This is about joining together and not allowing other people to dictate how our lives should be run.”

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