Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
13 December 2022

Is Mick Lynch in trouble?

The leader of the RMT union seemed rattled on the Today programme this morning.

By Freddie Hayward

Mick Lynch has made his name this year by despatching ill-prepared and over-confident journalists during interviews that have often descended into disorder. It’s therefore no surprise that the general secretary of the RMT’s interview on the Today programme this morning (13 December) became bad-tempered. 

But one question that seemed to particularly rattle Lynch was how much pay rail strikers had forfeited since going on strike. They aren’t paid when they walk out, so unions spend much of their time amassing “hardship funds” to support strikers and their families through the industrial action. 

[See also: Does the wave of strikes mark the end of the long 1990s?]

Lynch’s refusal to say how much strikers had lost in pay – Network Rail estimated in the summer that the figure was around £1,500 – revealed a key anxiety for the RMT. The union needs the support of its members to maintain the threat of strike action. During the Today interview, Mishal Husain pointed out that the percentage of RMT members who voted effectively to go on strike had fallen from 92 per cent in November to 64 per cent in December. As Lynch said, that’s still a strong majority. But the trajectory is going in the wrong direction for Lynch, and any fall in support will weaken his hand in the negotiations. 

Nonetheless, the RMT isn’t the only organisation under pressure. The end of the strikes wouldn’t be a triumph for the government. As I wrote in today’s Morning Call newsletter, people won’t be cheering for the government when a struggling NHS or decrepit train network resume service. Unlike with the rail strikes over the summer, industrial action is spreading to other public services, piling pressure on the government as multiple industries threaten walk-outs at the same time. The RMT may be facing problems of its own, but so is the government.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Read more on strikes:

Content from our partners
How to navigate the modern cyber-threat landscape
Supporting customers through the cost of living crisis
Data on cloud will change the way you interact with the government

Rishi Sunak has been left looking complacent on strikes

What are the salaries of workers going on strike in the UK?

The biggest myths about this week’s strikes in the UK

Topics in this article : , , ,