Off The Rails's blog

Are rules a good way to save lives?

Network Rail has ten lifesaving rules. These are supposed to be rules for all staff to follow to keep them safe. They are the focus of Network Rail’s staff safety strategy:

1. Always be sure the required plans and permits are in place before you start a job or go on or near the line.
2. Always use...

Bullying bosses threaten cleaners at Paddington

An image is circulating on social media of a notice handed to outsourced cleaners, employed by the contractor Interserve, at Paddington station.

It insists that the toilets "always have an attendant in view", and accuses cleaners of "hiding in the room." How are cleaners meant to distance safely if...

RIP Belly Mujinga - keep frontline workers safe!

We send our condolences and solidarity to the family, friends, and workmates of Belly Mujinga, a station worker from Victoria who has died of Covid-19, after being spat on at work by someone claiming to have the virus.

This tragedy highlights the terrible risks to which frontline, public-facing...

Resist reckless ramp up!

It looks as though railway industry bosses will go for a unilateral ramping up of services from tomorrow, 11 May, despite no national agreement with our unions being in place to facilitate this.

Unions had been negotiating towards an agreement, with a projected date of 18 May in mind for a possible...

Mitie steals cleaners' wages

Notoriously exploitative outsourcing contractor Mitie has robbed cleaners on Merseyrail of wages.

Bosses have announced they're withdrawing from a recent agreement, due to be backdated to July 2019, to increase wages to ÂŁ9/hour. This will leave cleaners ÂŁ500 out of pocket and around ÂŁ1,000 worse off...

Not all in it together: SSP lays off workers

In another episode that proves we're not "all in it together" during the pandemic, and that bosses are definitely not suspending class struggle from their side, Select Service Partners (the agency that provides workers for fast food and coffee concessions, and some other shops, at train stations)...

No class peace in the crisis

A “joint statement”, published in the name of the Department for Transport (DfT), eight individual unions organising in the transport sector, and the TUC, has appeared online.

It reports the “first in a series of Ministerial calls” between the DfT and transport unions, and ends with an affirmation...

Greater Anglia Goes on the Attack

Greater Anglia management are systematically naffing off pretty much everyone who works for them.

The company has imposed new rosters for RPIs where everyone works alone all the time.

It has imposed a roster for train despatchers at Liverpool Street which breaks up the previous practice of working a...

Northern: keep it public, fight for democratic ownership!

On 29 January, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced what many had been expecting sooner or later since May 2018, that Arriva Rail North will be stripped of the Northern Railway franchise and that it will be taken into public ownership and run by the government's Operator of Last Resort.

The...

Rail Gourmet workers at Paddington strike again

Catering workers employed by Rail Gourmet at Paddington station, in West London, struck again on 30-31 January. The workers had previously struck on 10 January, in their fight for fair rostering practises and proper payment of allowances and bonuses.

Rail Gourmet is part of Select Service Partners,...

Unsafe? Down tools!

What do you do if you've had enough of abuse and assault, and if your employer doesn't seem to give a monkey's? You stop working, that's what.

When the destination boards went down at Manchester Victoria, and control were not passing on any information to platform staff about which train was going...

Close to victory on WMT?

Strikes due to continue on West Midlands Trains (which operates as West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway) every Saturday throughout December have been suspended, and RMT is putting a new deal to a referendum of its members, with a recommendation from the NEC to accept.

The deal...

The fight against Driver Only Operation

The announcement by rail union RMT of a sustained programme of strikes on West Midlands Trains and South Western Railway represents a significant escalation and expansion of the union’s protracted and hard-fought war against the imposition of “Driver Only Operation”.

On West Midlands Trains, guards...

Northern: stand firm against DOO!

On 26 November RMT announced that Northern Rail guards had voted "nearly 95%" in a ballot to approve further negotiations on "changes to the operational mode" to implement the promise made by Arriva Rail North via ACAS in February 2019 of a "conductor on every train... for the remainder of the...

DOO resisted on Merseyrail, but the fight isn't over

RMT is announcing a "major breakthrough" on Merseyrail, after negotiations produced a new offer including a method of train dispatch which retains control of the doors for the guard, in line with RMT policy.

The union says the "fine detail" still needs working out, but the fact that it has suspended...

Northern: New Deal for Drivers Hits the Buffers

Rumours reach us that Northern's unpopular New Deal for Drivers (NDfD) is dead. We hope that's true. Time for the Northern drivers' Company Council to get into pay talks, reject the derisory 2.75% offer that the other unions look set to knock back and rejoin the collective bargaining process to help...

Action for Accessibility - not Victimisations!

The railway system is notoriously and shamefully inaccessible to disabled passengers. And while painfully slow progress is made with physical accessibility, the employers' cuts to staffing make it harder for us to help disabled passengers. Moreover, the companies provide precious little training for...

Northern guards: put the action back on!

Word has it that Northern Rail management have come up with a spiffing new idea for undermining the role of guard, and seem to think that we may be daft enough not to see through it.

It goes like this. The train pulls in to the station. The driver opens the doors. The guards steps onto the platform....

Public Ownership Not 'Regional Control'!

Be careful Boris Johnson, you almost sound like you're advocating the public ownership of Britain's railways. The PM's policy announcement at the weekend was focused on giving more power to Mayors in the North of England to make decisions about how local railways are operated. Boris said, 'I want...

Northern: ASLEF Reps Carry On Capitulating

Another Rest Day Working extension expires at Northern, and yet another one is granted until 28th December.

What the hell are ASLEF playing at? They have the employer over a barrel, absolutely desperate to get all Drivers through training on the new 331 and 195 units in time for them to be...

Stay on guard in SWR dispute!

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...

Merseyrail strikes off, but SWR strikes go ahead

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...

EMT strikes continue

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...

Two workmates die in South Wales: Why is track working not safe?

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...

Condolences and solidarity: track workers killed by train

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...

Northern Rail drivers: Vote No to the 'New Deal'!

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...

Network Rail: A Dismal Deal

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.

So Network Rail workers are now saddled with an RPI-only pay...

New SWR strikes up the ante

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'...

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