Union leader Mick Lynch wins millions of admiration by channeling James Connolly

Union leader Mick Lynch wins millions of admiration by channeling James Connolly

Tourists lined up outside St Paul’s Cathedral as they do every day, but the surrounding streets were unusually quiet, with offices, bars and cafes mostly empty. Thursday has been the busiest working day in the City of London since the pandemic, but the second day of national rail strikes kept almost everyone at home.

Before the strikes began on Tuesday, the government and its loyal press in the press were in place and ready to go with remarks that have been repeated during every labor dispute for the past 40 years. The public was held accountable for the redemption of union barons who did not care about the inconvenience they caused hard-working people when they made unreasonable wage demands and opposed modernization.

But when Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) members began deploying train stations across the country, a Savanta ComRes survey found that 58 percent of the public thought the strikes were justified and only 34 percent said they were unfair. If the union won the argument, it was partly due to a series of interviews with its secretary general Mick Lynch.

The shaved head with thick, dark eyebrows is the usually not smiling Lynch at first glance ideal material for the conservatives and their friends to turn into a traditional villain. But his straightforward talk, rude demeanor, and refusal to play along with lazy, trivial questions have won him the admiration of millions.

Apparently indifferent to whether his interlocutor likes him or not, Lynch is sincere about his determination to protect the interests of RMT members and to ensure that they do not follow millions of other British workers into precarious low-wage jobs. He has consistently accused Boris Johnson’s government of the strikes and accused ministers of leaning on railway companies to resist the compromises that could end them.

Lynch’s technique in broadcast studios is to remain unmoved while his antagonists speak before taking them down with scorn when they’m done. When Sky News presenter Kay Burley asked what his members would do if staffing companies crossed a strike line to take their jobs, he waved behind him at a small group of picketers standing peacefully on an empty station.

“Do not you know how a strike line works?” he said.

“The picket is to stand outside the workplace to try to encourage people who want to go to work, not to go to work. What do you think it’s more about? “

He called Junior Minister Chris Philp a liar 16 times during an exchange, told ITV host Richard Madeley that he was talking nonsense and reprimanding Piers Morgan for his trivial interrogation line.

“I do not know enough about the railway dispute. I just observe that RMT’s Mick Lynch cleaned up every single media picador who tried his luck today “, said actor Hugh Laurie.

Born in 1962 to Irish parents who came to the UK under lightning to find work, Lynch grew up on a town hall in Paddington as one of five children. He left school at the age of 16 to become an electrician and moved into the construction industry until his career was blocked when he was illegally blacklisted because of his union activism.

Lynch later sued his former employer, which was part of a concerted action among construction companies to blacklist workers who were union activists and won a significant deal.

“When you tell your friends about a blacklist, they say it’s damn good. I knew I was blacklisted but you can not prove it, because everything was secret,” he told the Guardian last year.

Lynch is one of a group of second-generation Irishmen in Britain at the top of the trade union movement, including trade union congress general Frances O’Grady and Unites Sharon Graham. Like O’Grady, whose grandfather and great-grandfather were the founders of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, Lynch is imbued with the tradition of the Irish labor movement.

Asked by an interviewer from ITV News on Wednesday to name his hero, Lynch chose James Connolly.

“Do you know who James Connolly was?” he said.

“He was an Irish Republican socialist and he educated himself and he started a non-sectarian trade union movement in Ireland and he was a hero of the Irish Revolution. He was a hero.”

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