Off The Rails's blog

Support Crossrail construction workers' strike!

Submitted by Off The Rails on Mon, 05/12/2016 - 19:05

Workers at the Crossrail construction site on Tottenham Court Road, Central London, are striking in protest at the forced displacement of Terry Wilson, their site steward, to a different workplace.

Terry was transferred after 200 workers protested at Crossrail's headquarters to demand increased "second-tier" (bonus) payments, and occupied the site offices of Crown House Technologies and Laing O'Rourke.

Southern: This Is War

Submitted by Off The Rails on Tue, 04/10/2016 - 02:43

In the history of workers' struggles in the early 20th century, and occasionally since, the term "labour war" has been used to describe an industrial dispute that reaches an almost military pitch. Such disputes saw workers mount armed pickets, to defend their strikes against the police, right-wing paramilitaries, or armed strike-breakers hired by management.

Towards a national rail strike, and a labour-movement campaign for public ownership

Submitted by Off The Rails on Fri, 12/08/2016 - 00:15

This article was written before the recent suspension of the strikes on Southern. For comment on that, click here.

By a rail worker

Recent and ongoing disputes across several train companies represent the most significant levels of workers' struggle in the railway industry for some time.


Southern Strikes Suspended: Don't Let The Bosses Off The Ropes!

Submitted by Off The Rails on Fri, 12/08/2016 - 00:12

The RMT has suspended the rest of this week's strikes on Southern. Many striking guards will have received that news, which came after a day which saw a solid strike and well-supported pickets across the Southern network, as well as a lively demonstration at the Department for Transport, with disappointment and frustration. To many, it will feel like letting the bosses get their breath back at exactly the moment we had them on the ropes!

East Midlands Trains: reverse Sunday working deal!

Submitted by Off The Rails on Mon, 06/06/2016 - 12:57

An EMT driver reports...

In April 2016, after seven months of talks, East Midlands Trains (EMT) proposed a deal to its drivers that would guarantee a Sunday service.

Presently, and for many years previously, drivers have not had to work on Sundays. A lot of us are induced to work, in the main through individual bargaining with roster clerks. This usually results in enhanced pay above the normal rate for the job.

The Problem Is Privatisation

Submitted by Off The Rails on Fri, 18/03/2016 - 23:39

The news that the London Overground franchise will be transferred to Arriva will undoubtedly be met with indifference by many workers, who will rightly see it as a case of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss".

Despite being run under the TfL aegis, London Overground was already privatised, with the contract run by London Overground Rail Operations Ltd., a private firm.

Breaking the Blockade

Submitted by Off The Rails on Thu, 25/02/2016 - 08:59

Signallers are refusing to go along with unsafe blockades. 

Time was that trackside gangs could talk directly with the signal box and organise the protection they need. But these days, unless there is a failure, they have to go through the planners. So if the planners get it wrong, there is a problem - and unfortunately, they do get it wrong: putting the blockade limits in the wrong places, for example, or even on the wrong road. Of course, cuts in staffing levels don't help!

Whose industry is it, Mr. Wilkinson?

Submitted by Off The Rails on Tue, 23/02/2016 - 01:10

A DfT official has been forced into an apology after making derogatory remarks about train drivers at a public meeting in Croydon.

Peter Wilkinson, the director of Rail Passenger Services, told the audience that those of us who planned to resist cuts and attacks on our terms and conditions could "get the hell out of [his] industry".

We suggest Mr. Wilkinson does some thinking about whose industry it really is. If any of us didn't turn up for work, trains wouldn't run and stations wouldn't open. If Mr. Wilkinson didn't turn up for work... would anyone notice?

Transport for London faces further funding cuts

Submitted by Off The Rails on Wed, 17/02/2016 - 22:23

This post was written by a support of our sister blog Tubeworker, a blog and bulletin for London Underground workers, by London Underground workers.

Between 2010 and 2015, the Tories cut government funding to TfL by over a third. In November last year, they announced that from 2016 they would cut up to £700 million a year from TfL’s grant for running costs with a view to stopping government subsidy of TfL altogether by 2021.

GTR Southern: Defend the Role of the Guard!

Submitted by Off The Rails on Wed, 17/02/2016 - 18:38

As it prepares to get rid of guards, GTR (Govia Thameslink Railway) Southern wants its trains to have cameras on their sides and CCTV in the driving cabs for drivers.

These trains would have an on-board supervisor (OBS). But this post will not operate the doors or hold a safety-critical licence. Despite this, the company will not rule out using the OBS to perform safety critical duties in an emergency. In other words, the OBS is a guard on the cheap.

Rail workers: fight the pensions sell out!

Submitted by Off The Rails on Fri, 22/01/2016 - 18:10

Off The Rails readers may be aware of the legislation coming into force this April that ends the contracting-out of the Second State Pension, resulting in higher National Insurance contributions for both employees (a 1.4% increase) and employers (3.4%). The Tory government has also passed some legislation to help employers out with this - by allowing them to carry out annual raids on occupational pensions schemes, without even having to consult with scheme trustees.

On The Gravy Train

Submitted by Off The Rails on Mon, 14/12/2015 - 18:28

Former Tory government minister Esther McVey has been appointed chair of the British Transport Police Authority by her former colleague, Transport Minister Patrick McLaughlin. The part-time £32,000 per year job entails just 60 days work each year and comes with a £35,000 expense account.

DOO statement

Submitted by Off The Rails on Mon, 14/12/2015 - 18:25

Traincrew unions Aslef and RMT have issued a joint statement clearly stating that they "will not agree" to the introduction or extension of Driver Only Operation, including in the form of "Driver Controlled Operation" or "Driver Door Operation".

The statement goes on to set out some of the main reasons for opposing DOO and commits the unions to "[campaigning] in unity to oppose any extension of DOO and DCO/DDO and to seek to explore ways of reversing it where it has been introduced."

What is Off The Rails?

Submitted by Off The Rails on Mon, 14/12/2015 - 18:24

Off The Rails is a platform for rank-and-file rail workers, published by the socialist group Workers' Liberty. Off The Rails has existed for many years as a printed bulletin, but we've now launched this blog to provide a more regular and accessible forum for news, views, and discussion about workers' struggle in the railway industry.

Content from the printed bulletins can be found online here, and here's a bit more about us...

Off The Rails is:

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