Off The Rails Autumn 2006

John McDonnell 4 Labour Leader

Published on: Mon, 20/11/2006 - 13:41

Another world is possible

On 14th July the battle to be the next leader of the Labour Party became a two-horse race. John McDonnell, Hayes & Harlington MP and Chair of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, threw his hat into the ring. He needs all the support we can give him to ensure victory over the usurpers that have held our party captive for years.

It had been assumed that Gordon Brown would take over from Blair with no fuss. The press paved the way and will continue to attack anyone or anything that stands in his way. That is why we need to mobilise now.

We need to get union members

Labour Conference: ASLEF Not Welcome

Published on: Mon, 20/11/2006 - 13:39

Given it's a Labour Party affiliate which pays £40,000+ a year for the privilege, you might have thought ASLEF members would get representation at conference.

Sadly not. Keith Norman and the rest of the delegation were turned away from September's conference, having waited for four days to collect their credentials without success. It seems that the party's decision to take conference bureaucracy "in house" to save money has brought in a new wave of incompetence - "delays in processing applications" was the only excuse given.

The fact that the party machine never bothered to sort it out

Central Trains: Sick System

Published on: Mon, 20/11/2006 - 13:38

As New Labour's obsession with privatisation spreads like a virus through the NHS, it is beginning to affect us as workers as well as patients.

A senior conductor on Central Trains has been forced to retire on ill-health. It was either that or the company would sack him for breach of contract. No matter that a routine operation would have enabled him to return to work.

The company wouldn't hold the job open until he had got to the top of the NHS waiting list. Nor would it pay for a private operation. (Not that we approve of private healthcare, but if they wanted him back at work that much …)

Raj and Les: Beating Victimisation

Published on: Mon, 20/11/2006 - 13:36

In late August two drivers on the Tube’s Jubilee line, Raj Nathvani and Les Bruty, faced the sack over small performance errors which would normally result at most in a slap on the wrist and extra training.

Les, an RMT drivers’ rep, was charged with gross misconduct for a minor breach of procedure even though there was no-one on the platform, or in the train, to be put at risk! Management refused Raj a rep until his actual disciplinary hearing, collated evidence against him in the form of casual emails from other staff members, then sacked him.

They were trying to bring in a regime of fear

GNER: TSSA Takes Action?

Published on: Mon, 20/11/2006 - 12:48

GNER workers are preparing to defend jobs and conditions as the company hits financial crisis. Bermuda-based parent company Sea-Containers filed for bankruptcy protection in the USA on 16th October. But you can bet the bosses will try to bail themselves out at our expense.

Already, GNER has announced job cuts in Travel Centres, which will slash customer service to the bone. The situation is so bad that the TSSA is taking industrial action.

On a 70+% turnout, 91% voted to strike and 83% for action short of strikes. Despite the larger mandate for strikes, TSSA leaders plumped for ‘action

GB Railfreight

Published on: Mon, 20/11/2006 - 12:44

In August ASLEF train drivers at GB Railfreight voted by about 2:1 not to strike against the company closing the final-salary pension scheme to new starters.

While RMT and TSSA were holding an industry- wide aggregated ballot on pension rights in June, ASLEF negotiated their way out of the dispute on a company-by-company basis promising that any company not signing up would face industrial action. They threw away the strength of a united rail union strike with an aggregate ballot preferring instead to get what they could for some drivers and leaving the others to take their chances. Maybe at

Network Rail operational

Published on: Mon, 20/11/2006 - 12:42

Following a difficult year with the 35-hour week and pay dispute (covered in the last two issues of Off The Rails), Network Rail signallers now face a series of fresh attacks.


Network Rail is using its operations reorganisation to attack the PTR&R (Promotion, Transfer, Redundancy and Resettlement) agreement, casting a shadow over the future of many signalling jobs.

In August, NR asked Signaller Managers to sign a Role Clarity contract and become Local Operations Managers (LOMs). But some refused, as they wanted to keep the protection of union-negotiated agreements in their existing

Heathrow Express

Published on: Mon, 20/11/2006 - 12:31

Heathrow Express workers have fought hard against the company's attack on pay and conditions, but the employer's hostility, and division between the unions, has left issues unresolved.

ASLEF and RMT were due to strike over the three-year pay offer on 7, 11 and 21 September. This made the company agree to talks at last, and both unions suspended the first two dates (obviously, they still haven't got the hand of the idea that you can talk and strike at the same time).

The company revised their offer a bit, but it was still crap. Unfortunately, ASLEF recommended it to the members, who narrowly

EWS Groundstaff

Published on: Mon, 20/11/2006 - 12:25

After years of attacking its staff and bashing the unions, EWS has produced restructuring plans that are an insult to all groundstaff. They may be a joke, or an attempt to make us accept a milder version at a later date. We're not laughing.

Management want to: make hours even more anti-social; make you work seven days a week; scrap meal breaks for turns up to six hours; make you work at any location and travel there in your own time; change rosters with only five days notice, and change booking on/off times with only 12 hours notice; drastically cut sick pay; and buy out redundancy and travel

Marxism at Work: One Union For All Railworkers

Published on: Mon, 20/11/2006 - 12:21

The greatest weakness among rail workers today is our being split into several unions. Management are able to exploit the divisions, and the unions' energies are diverted into duplicating each others' services and competing with each other rather than uniting against the employers. At its worst, they even end up signing separate deals or scabbing on each others' strikes.

At least RMT is formally committed to one union for all railworkers, and organises all grades rather than clinging to the idea that some grades are special and separate. But none of our unions has any sort of campaign aiming

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