From pledging his support across the ocean to attending a transport rally in London in person, US Senator Bernie Sanders has supported British unions fighting for better wage conditions.
Mr. Sanders, 80, representing the state of Vermont, spoke Wednesday at the Save London Transport rally, organized by unions including the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), in central London.
It comes after the RMT said an announcement of a long-term financing deal from London’s government and transport on Tuesday will attack the pay and pensions of underground workers, warning it will lead to strikes.
Mr. Sanders, who competed for the US Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020, said, “Let me thank the RMT for inviting me to be with you tonight, it is truly a true honor and I want to pass on my belief that millions of workers across this country are proud of what you are doing, they are proud of their fight for justice and we are with you.
“What’s happening in the UK today is no different than what’s happening in the United States of America, same damn thing.
“What you see are the people at the top, people who are extraordinarily rich, are getting richer, you are seeing a middle class that continues to shrink and you are seeing millions and millions of people living in extreme poverty.
“In the year 2022, we cannot allow this to happen, whether it is the UK or the US, workers around the world must stand together.”
He added: “Our job right now at the international level is to be together. Our job right now is to bring people from all over the world together, to make it clear to the oligarchs that their day and their power are ending.”
Mr. Sanders met with RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch, with the couple hugging at the rally. Speaking ahead of the event, Lynch told the PA news agency: “It’s great that the senator came, he contacted us – coming here to express his solidarity with workers in the UK but also around the world, and in his own country, the United States.
“I think Sanders moved the debate in the American Democratic primary, he pushed (President Joe) Biden a very brave pro-union agenda, and a lot of people on the union side are satisfied with some of the measures introduced by President Biden, and Bernie. Sanders is responsible for it.
“But it is also responsible, along with others, for generating a new wave of union activity, with new unions, new union activists from different backgrounds, dealing with some of these corporate profits and corporate scams that are happening in the states.
“And we can learn from that here, I’m sure they can learn from what we’re doing, so we need to make those connections and make our movement international.”
On what Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer was able to learn from Sanders, he said: “He has to be in tune and empathy with the workers and their problems, show the workers that he understands their problems.”
He added: “The purpose of tonight is the funding crisis that has been happening in London transport since Covid started when fares fell because people were told not to travel.
“So this left a huge hole in London transport and transport for London finances and the Mayor had multiple deals of short term deals, sometimes even just a week or two, now he’s on a 19 month contract but it seems we have put the services in jeopardy to some extent because we have to trust that the Tories will finance it.
“But it also seems to be putting our members’ pay, their jobs, their pensions and their conditions on the table.
“This is a demonstration in defense of London transport services, but also in defense of London transport workers”.