Rail union holds BP and Shell shares despite attacks on ‘indefensible shareholder dividends’ Business

The rail union that will cripple Britain this week has built up a £22million war chest by investing in a hedge fund, big banks and the oil industry, despite its socialist campaign.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has stakes worth hundreds of thousands of pounds in BP and Shell – two companies its leader attacked earlier this year for generating ‘obscene profits’ and paying “indefensible dividends to shareholders”.

The union has also put money into Melrose, which recently completed a controversial takeover and spin-off from engineering specialist GKN.

During this time he has poured more than £120,000 into a fund managed by Man Group, the London-listed hedge fund and owns shares in HSBC and Lloyds, while campaigning for the nationalization of the banking system.

The union’s most recent accounts, for 2020, reveal that it has also backed drinks giant Diageo and pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline.

The investments have paid off for the RMT, generating paper profits of over £3m. Mick Lynch, the union leader, received pay and benefits of £163,000 in 2020. A spokesman said Mr Lynch had now agreed to reduce his annual salary to £84,000.

Despite its investments, the RMT has in recent months attacked “greedy multinationals” such as French cleaning company Atalian Servest for paying dividends similar to those the union itself receives from its own investments.

Mr Lynch also lambasted private rail operators for “a culture of massive dividend payouts and corporate greed”. First Group and Go-Ahead both came under fire last year for their investor payout plans. RMT argued that First Group should not “line the pockets of its private investors”, while union chiefs criticized Go-Ahead profits, saying: “It’s time to weed out these greedy middlemen and put the ‘entire railroad in the hands of the public.’

Another union, Unite, campaigned against Melrose’s takeover of GKN in 2018.

Unite also voted for GlaxoSmithKline members to launch historic industrial action at pharmaceutical and consumer brand giant FTSE 100. The strikes were later averted after a last-minute pay deal was agreed.

More than 50,000 RMT members plan to walk out on Tuesday in the biggest strike in more than three decades. Union actions are also planned for Thursday and Saturday.

Railway chiefs have issued an emergency timetable with just one in five trains due to run. Services that operate will begin at 7:30 a.m. and end at 6:30 p.m.

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This notice was published: 2022-06-18 15:00:00

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