Message of Solidarity from RMT with Israeli Railworkers Striking against Privatisation

To: Gilla Edrai,
Workers' Shop Stewards' Committee, Chairwoman,
Israel Railways

Dear comrade Gilla,

We have seen press reports about your struggle with your employer, Israel Railways and of the serious attacks on your members' collective agreements, safety and conditions of employment. We have also been informed that you and two other colleagues have been fined 10,000 NIS by the Labour Court for leading 'illegal' strike action against plans to privatise and 'out-source' your work to sub-contractors, in order to break up your collective contract.

I am writing to you as National President of the National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers (RMT), Britain's largest railworkers' union, to express our solidarity with your struggle.

Britain was one of the first countries in the world to follow the path of rail privatisation proposed by the gurus of neoliberalism in the 1990s. Today in Britain the public subsidy to the privatised rail industry is £5bn per year compared to less than £1bn in 1989, yet Britain has the highest rail fares in Europe if not the world. Of course, the rail privatisation experiment has been an opportunity for lawyers, accountants, consultants, shareholders and rail bosses to enrich themselves at the public's cost.

From the point of view of railworkers privatisation has brought greater job insecurity and contracting out of jobs to weaken collective bargaining, while simultaneously we have suffered a series of preventable and foreseeable 'accidents' due to the fragmentation, casualisation and 'profit first' mentality of the market. Only yesterday we commemorated the 8th anniversary of the Tebay disaster where 4 of our members were killed when a rail vehicle owned and maintained by a contractor who had tampered with the brakes, 'ran away' down a hill into a work gang on the track.

RMT applauds you and all the workers at Israel Railways who stand up to fight against this 'free market' vandalism.

I hope that you will convey our warmest solidarity greetings to your members and their families from my General Secretary, Bob Crow and all the members of my Executive.

If RMT can be of assistance to you please let us know.

Yours in soldiarity,

Alex Gordon

National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers (RMT)