Some comments on the Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests on the Tube from us.
We support direct action against climate change. We’ve highlighted this many times and have drawn attention to the central role that workers’ action has to play in fighting for a transition to a sustainable economy.
While we have criticisms of XR, particularly in terms of what we feel is their naive attitude to the police and state power generally, they have played an undeniably important role in raising the profile of this issue.
Two of our unions, RMT and Aslef, have made statements condemning the protests. We won’t join in with such straightforward condemnation, nor will we simply bemoan “disruption”. We know what it’s like to be attacked for being “disruptive” or “causing inconvenience.”
We stand in solidarity with X against repressive policing and defend their right to protest, even if it has a “disruptive” impact.
Having said this, we can’t endorse members of the public taking actions that put themselves and other passengers in significant danger. We want to see the service shut down via workers taking industrial action, not by passengers putting themselves in harm’s way. We also feel that public transport is a strange target for climate protests when public transport is so central to the protection of the environment from the pollution produced by private transport.
We’d appeal to all XR members/supporters, and any other climate activists, to discuss with us how we can build a working-class climate movement that strikes at the root cause of the climate crisis: capitalism.
We also stand in solidarity with our colleagues on trains and stations who’ve been responding on the ground, often in very difficult circumstances, having to deal with the public whilst managing difficult safety incidents. It reinforces the need for a properly-staffed Tube!