Mick Lynch, the “socialist” face of the new British trade unionism

In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher largely killed Britain’s trade unions. Mick Lynch, general secretary of the railway union (Rail, Maritime and Transport, RMT) is bringing them back to life today with a strike that mobilizes more than 40,000 railway workers.

The biggest strike for 40 years in Great Britain enters this Saturday, June 25 in its third day, to the surprise of the British. The strikers are demanding a 7% wage increase and the cancellation of the 2,660 maintenance job cuts within Network Rail, the public entity responsible for the rail network, planned by the government in order to reduce its annual payroll. Negotiations are at an impasse.

The darling of “social networks”

At 60, Mick Lynch, has become in a few days the darling of social networks. The union’s tweeter account has more than 60,000 new followers in one week. For some, Mick lynch is a ” hero”. “We need more like him.writes Pete MBE. Can you tell him to run for prime minister? »

In Britain, the rail sector is preparing for the biggest strike in thirty years

A UFO in a country where “strike” and “union” have sounded like “swear words” since the 1980s and the some eleven years of government of the Conservative Prime Minister, nicknamed the “iron lady” for her inflexibility. At the origin of the success of Mick Lynch, an outspokenness, a thorough knowledge of his files, and a disarming frankness which seems to pay. ” Unions must take a militant position and use the weapon of the strike wherever necessary he says.

Little known so far

Mick Lynch is little known to the British, although he has been surveying the trade union world for almost thirty years. Born in London to Irish parents, at a time when they were considered by the British to be the scum of society, he grew up with his five brothers and sisters in predominantly Catholic social housing in the Paddington district.

The family lives in rented rooms that today would be called slums, with an old tin tub and shared toilets with other families “, he tells the daily The Guardian.

Elected Deputy Secretary General in 2015

He left school at 16 to become an electrician and learned union life and its limits: ” To get a job, you had to call the hiring manager, who would call a company that checked your name and say, “Don’t hire him, he went on strike.” » People have been out of work for years because of this. (…) I knew I was on a blacklist, but I couldn’t prove it because it was secret. The existence of these illegal “blacklists” has since come to light. The check received from the company as damages is still posted in his office.

Black listed, Mick Lynch is forced to change jobs. He was hired in 1993 by a very young company… Eurostar. There he founded a branch of the RMT, which he led, before being elected deputy secretary general in 2015. He remained there for five years before leaving the post in September 2020 denouncing “ an intolerable toxic atmosphere created by some members of the executive council. He accuses them of moral harassment. ” In forty-two years of union activism, I have never seen a union so divided “, he will say.

« All I want in life is a little socialism »

He was elected in May 2021 by union members. Since 2016, he says, his union’s membership has grown from 2,000 to 83,000 this year. ” They worked night and day during the Covid crisis and thanks to them, the country continued to function “. It calls for the renationalisation of all rail transport and for the State to invest, in the interest of users and the fight against climate change.

In Mick Lynch, the conservatives have found an opponent who dares, in this neoliberal country, to admit ” all i want in life is a little socialism ».

In London, the new transport line arrives at the wrong time


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