Stay on guard in SWR dispute!Off The RailsMon, 02/09/2019 - 12:49
Congratulations to RMT members on South Western Railway who have taken strike action again this weekend to defend the role of the guard.
At the start of 2019 it looked like strike action was reaping rewards when South Western Railway said that they would guarantee a second safety critical person on each train. RMT suspended strike action to allow talks to progress. But without the pressure of strikes, progress stalled; after a few months, the guards were back on strike.
Merseyrail strikes off, but SWR strikes go aheadOff The RailsThu, 29/08/2019 - 22:02
Guards on South Western Railway are striking again from 30 August – 2 September, as their fight against the imposition of Driver Only Operation (DOO) goes on. Company figures expected that 40% of services would be cancelled on Friday 30 August and Monday 2 September, with up to 50% of services cancelled at the weekend. Union activists believe these figures could be conservative.
EMT strikes continueOff The RailsFri, 02/08/2019 - 15:47
Striking guards at East Midlands Trains, soon to be East Midlands Railway, will be striking for a 3rd successive Saturday tomorrow. The past two actions have been well supported; EMT can only operate a much reduced service by drafting in its own and other companies’ managers to operate the train doors and perform platform duties.
Two workmates die in South Wales: Why is track working not safe?Off The RailsSat, 13/07/2019 - 23:34
The deaths of two track workers near Port Talbot on 3 July was a tragedy that could possibly have been avoided. Initial reports are that the two workers were using loud equipment and relying on a touch lookout – someone who would tap them to warn them of approaching trains. Exactly why that didn’t happen is not likely to be clear for several months until the Rail Accident Investigation Board publish their report. Some of the lessons to be learned are probably ones that could have been learnt already though.
Condolences and solidarity: track workers killed by trainOff The RailsWed, 03/07/2019 - 11:31
Here at Off The Rails, we are deeply distressed at the news that two rail workers have died after being hit by a train between Bridgend and Port Talbot. We send our very best wishes to the third worker who was struck by the train, and our condolences and solidarity to the loved ones and workmates of all three.
The RAIB has already opened its investigation. We need answers as to why, in the high-tech twenty-first century, the railway is still such a dangerous industry to work in.
Northern Rail drivers: Vote No to the 'New Deal'!Off The RailsTue, 25/06/2019 - 22:19
In the ASLEF rulebook, rule 2 (a) states: "ASLEF is a registered trade union, it is part of the Labour and Trade Union Movement...". Rules 3.1 (VIII and XII) commit the union to assist in the furtherance of the labour movement towards a socialist society, and recognise that trade unionism is international and that the union should pursue solidarity with workers globally. Rule 3.3 provides for ASLEF aiding or joining with other organisations that have "within their objects the promotion of the interests of workers".
Network Rail: A Dismal DealOff The RailsMon, 10/06/2019 - 13:45
RMT has accepted the lousy offer from Network Rail, as the majority of reps went along with the leadership's line that it was all that could be achieved for now, and that the union could break an offer it had signed up to at a later stage.
New SWR strikes up the anteOff The RailsFri, 31/05/2019 - 15:27
RMT has upped the ante in the dispute against DOO on South Western Railway, by announcing a five-day strike from 18-22 June.
Despite winning what appeared to be a "guard guarantee" in February via previous strikes, SWR bosses have dithered and have failed to implement an agreement to retain guards' jobs. Naming new strikes is absolutely the right thing to do, and it's absolutely right to go big. Incidental one-day strikes won't get the goods: sustained action might.
Great news this week as Transport for London has backed down on plans to close London Overground ticket offices.
This follows an active campaign by RMT, and by local Labour Party branches in the areas affected. Reps and activists handed out thousands of leaflets, travelled round the various stations affected and made themselves seen and heard. They made the case that ticket offices are essential for people to safely access the network and for protecting jobs.
Ever since RMT announced its positive-sounding deals with various Train Operating Companies (TOCs), Off The Rails has argued that it is essential that the union keep members informed of what is going on in talks. We have also reported the frustration of members in the various companies involved that they are not getting reports from talks.
Paddington Aslef branch, organising Great Western Railway drivers, has passed the following motion on Brexit:
Paddington Branch notes that since the UK voted to leave the European Union, none of the promises made by the Leave Campaign have been delivered. Rather than having £350 million a week to spend on the NHS, the economy has shrunk by £60bn and we have a shortage of 51,000 nurses.
Supporters of Off The Rails, a platform for rank-and-file rail workers published by Workers' Liberty, have proposed and supported a number of motions in their RMT branches, for submission to the RMT AGM. These include motions on:
Merseyrail still seem intent on making a deal that robs one group of workers to pay another, by cutting cleaners' jobs to retain guards' jobs. A second deal of this type was rejected by the RMT National Executive today (5 April). The deal also wanted to shift some door control functions to the driver.
A recently published Rail Accident Investigation Board report has again highlighted the important safety function played by the Guard. On 2nd March 2018 trains on the Kent suburban lines running through Lewisham ground to a halt in the icy conditions caused by the “Beast from the East”. One train was left unable to draw into Lewisham station, with the platform about 10 metres ahead of the front of the train. After an hour, with no food or drink or toilet facilities, passengers started to get out onto the track out of desperation.
Workers on South Western Railway (SWR) have struck another huge blow against Driver Only Operation, winning an agreement that a safety-critical guard will be retained on all SWR services.
Guards in the RMT had recently returned a resounding 84% majority in favour of further strikes, in a re-ballot forced on them by the restrictions of the anti-union laws. RMT had planned a strike for 22 February, but has now suspended this following SWR’s offer.
The breakthrough in the anti-DOO dispute is a cause for celebration, but some caution must also be exercised. No formal settlement has yet been reached, and the "other stakeholders" referred to in Acas chair Brendan Barber's letter to RMT General Secretary Mick Cash must be drivers' union Aslef.
Aslef has past form selling out RMT members as well as its own members in the big DOO dispute with GTR Southern in 2016/17. In addition, Aslef reps on the Northern Company Council has been acting to aid the company in pushing forward its DOO agenda.
Off the Rails has been covering the recent developments in RMT's dispute with Arriva Rail North, operators of Northern Railway over the company's plan to introduce Driver Only Operation.
In a letter from Acas chair Brendan Barber, RMT were informed that the company and Department for Transport were now willing to agree to a "Conductor on every train... ...for the remainder of the franchise". The letter invited the union to talks with the company and "other stakeholders" to discuss any necessary "changes to the operational mode".
After nearly 50 days of strikes, Northern guards have forced their employer, Arriva Rail North (ARN), to scrap a plan to impose "Driver Only Operation" (DOO). ARN has instead committed to maintain a conductor on every Northern train, including on services using new or newly modified rolling stock.
The DOO strikes on Southern have been over for a while now. The next big battle will be over proposed cuts to platform dispatch jobs, which are likely to be targeted on Brighton mainline stations. Lots of managers have been trained as "contingency" dispatch staff in the event of a strike. But as always the issue will be what Aslef drivers will do.
On 5 January an RMT picket line of striking Northern guards in Manchester was attacked by far-right thugs connected to the Democratic Football Lads Alliance and the rump English Defence League. It seems the attack may have been an opportunistic action by far-right activists mobilised for a demo of their own taking place in Manchester on the same day.
An Asian striker was specifically targeted, and was called a “nonce”, “child groomer”, and “paedophile”.
Rumours reach us that certain TOCs may be preparing offers to their drivers, via Aslef, aimed at heading off the possibility of united action against DOO.
These offers may include the promise of a substantial pay rise, in exchange for effectively selling conditions: that means concessions on DOO, and also potentially on other issues like the working week, with TOCs possibly moving to include Sundays in rosters.
As guards, and RMT drivers, at five Train Operating Companies (TOCs) strike again on 8-9 November to resist the imposition of Driver Only Operation (DOO), rail workers have received the demoralising news that Aslef members on Southern have voted by 79.1% to accept a deal that will see Aslef retreat from the dispute and accept a settlement introducing a limited form of DOO on certain services.
Our depot is solid with regards to the strike action. We only have 21 guards, of whom 17 have appeared on the picket line at one time or another (we average about 11 people on each strike day). Newcastle, Workington and Barrow are likewise unified.