Rail unions

Fantasy Union of Rail and Transport Workers

What kind of union do we need? There are strengths and weaknesses in our current union set-up. Union officials will often have you believe that things can only be done the way they are done, because ... well, because they have always been done that way. We do not agree. We have several criticisms of the existing rail unions, so it is only fair that we set out in more positive terms what our ideal union might look like. Let's call it the Fantasy Union of Rail and Transport Workers (FURT). Some of the good things about this fantasy union could be put in place by changes in rules and ways of...

Fined for taking a stand on safety?

On 18 May, train drivers’ union Aslef reported that up to 30 London Underground drivers were sent home after raising safety concerns, including some who raised concerns about not being able to safely distance in staff mess rooms due to the number of drivers on duty. Some drivers were issued with a letter from their local manager which read: “You have indicated you are not willing to undertake your normal rostered duty, despite the fact that it is safe to do so and you have been provided with assurance documentation that confirms [there is] no serious and imminent danger. “I must now advise you...

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...

It's your right to refuse unsafe work

Watch the video of the article on this page: As workers are encouraged to return to the workplace, as part of the government’s botched and reckless easing of lockdown measures, an urgent discussion is taking place across workplaces and through unions about resisting a lurch back to work in unsafe conditions. School workers’ unions are organising to resist a planned reopening from 1 June of schools (beyond the vulnerable and key workers’ children for whom they have remained open throughout. Joe Anderson, the Labour mayor of Liverpool, and some other Labour councils have said they support the...

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...

The job battles to come

Government figures say 27% of workers went on the official furlough scheme in late March and early April. The government is to cover 80% of their wages, and employer may or may not make up the other 20%. The scheme is due to end on 30 June. The government says it will be “tapered off”, not ended suddenly. The chief driver of Boris Johnson’s “back to work tomorrow” announcement on 10 May looks to have been the government’s wish to reduce its furlough bills, and avoid further bills for its (lavish) aid to big business and (now increased) aid to small business. The government also wants to...

Rail union says: if it's unsafe, then refuse

In the week ending 9 May, railway industry bosses signalled intentions to go for a unilateral ramping up of services from 11 May, despite no national agreement with the unions being in place to facilitate that. Unions had been negotiating towards an agreement, with a projected date of 18 May in mind for a possible increase in services. Bringing that forward a week could mean many of the safety measures implemented during the pandemic, such as temporary rosters to eliminate non-essential work, could end without new arrangements being put in their place. On the Tube, bosses had insisted there...

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...

Resist transport cuts

London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has taken to BBC Radio London to announce that Transport for London may run out of money to pay staff by the end of April, and may need to cut services unless the government steps in. It’s right that Khan should appeal to the government for funding; this is something he should’ve been doing loudly and vocally for years, pre-pandemic, joining unions in an active campaign of protest at the abolition of the government subsidy to TfL. But he also has a responsibility to reassure and protect the workers who keep TfL running, many of whom are now concerned for their future....

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