THE news is dominated today by the rail strike, which is planned to be the first in a series.

Further strikes will follow on Thursday and Saturday. Rail union bosses say that if the dispute is not resolved then there could also be strikes in July, but as yet no strike dates have been announced for next month.

The strike comes after members of the RMT rail union voted 8:1 in favour of strike action over jobs, pay and conditions. 71% of union members voted in the strike ballot, 89% of whom backed strike action. According to the union, this is the largest industrial dispute to affect the railways since the 1970s and around 40,000 workers will take part in the strike action.

Union members who work for Network Rail and 13 rail operators in England have called the series of strikes after failing to reach a settlement.

A statement from the union said: "Network Rail and the train operating companies have subjected their staff to multi-year pay freezes and plan to cut thousands of jobs which will make the railways unsafe."  Although ScotRail is not one of the train operators which is a party to this dispute, train services in Scotland have been seriously affected as signallers working for Network Rail have gone on strike.  Network Rail is a nationalised company which is the responsibility of the UK Government and is in charge of railway infrastructure, tracks and signalling across the whole of Britain.

Those of us who are independence supporters of a more cynical bent can't help but notice that the anti-independence Scottish media which relentlessly hounds the Scottish Government over transport issues is rather less keen to hold Douglas Ross and the Scottish Tories to account for their party's woeful mishandling of the rail dispute even though it is obvious that the responsibility for these strikes lies squarely at the door of the Conservative Party.

Tory MPs were furious at the prospect of their second jobs being banned and alcohol being banned from the House of Commons but they expect train and railway workers to shut up and accept real pay cuts in real terms, job losses and pension cuts.

The Conservatives are of course happy for the distraction from questions about Johnson's manifest unsuitability for high office and the fact that they continue to back him in full knowledge of his law-breaking, lies and what can only be described as rank corruption.

Teachers and health service workers are also threatening industrial action, and unbelievably some Conservatives are trying to pin the blame on the Labour Party, which has not been in power since 2010.  The Tory transport minister Grant Shapps has refused to get involved in negotiations, insisting it's a matter for the employers and the unions. However, Shapps has said that the government plans to change the laws and crack down even further on the right of unions to take strike action.  It is scandal after scandal with Johnson and the Tories. The Times newspaper suppressed a scoop after pressure from No 10, about Johnson trying to hire his now wife as chief of staff on £100k a year – a salary well beyond the incomes of ordinary workers struggling to make ends meet in this cost of living crisis.

Can you imagine if that story had been about the First Minister? The Scottish media would be screaming to the heavens about Scottish Government censorship and corruption. It would be the headline story on Reporting Scotland for weeks to come. Glenn Campbell would be doorstepping Scottish Government ministers doing his sad face, demanding to know who gave the instruction to contact the newspaper and what was said.

Equally there would be outrage from the Scottish media if the Scottish transport minister refused to get involved in finding a solution to an industrial dispute but then announced that the Scottish Government planned to restrict the right of unions to take industrial action.

But because it's Johnson and the Tories, there is a collective shrugging of the shoulders.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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