Off The Rails Spring 2006

Shorter Working Week: Who Pays the Price?

Submitted by AWL on 10 May, 2006 - 10:07

Rail workers continue to fight for shorter working hours. All of us should by now be on a (maximum) 35-hour week - then push forward to a 4-day, 32-hour week.

We need shorter working hours so that we can have a decent life outside work. But the employers want to keep on making profits out of us, so they resist our demands, or they insist that if we work for less time, then we either produce more or get paid less.

So this is not just an issue of whether we get shorter hours, but of who pays the price.

Death On The Tracks

Submitted by AWL on 10 May, 2006 - 10:04

A contractor has gone to jail for killing four track workers at Tebay in February 2004 through deliberate tampering to save money. But the root causes of the tragedy are still in place.

Mark Connolly, boss of MAC Machinery Services, got 9 years. He had disconnected the brakes on two wagons because the hydraulic systems were knackered and he would not spend the money to fix them. He tried to cover his tracks by filling cables with ball bearings to seem like brake fluid.

Network Rail: One Size Fits All?

Submitted by AWL on 10 May, 2006 - 10:01

The present terms and conditions of the engineering grades under Network Rail are going to be up for grabs unless the leadership of our union starts to organise and publicise the best and worst of them.

Most union members do not know how to get information and find out what conditions are worth defending and where we need to fight to improve them or level them up. Why should a worker have to give up a better rate of pay while at the same time seeing the fat cats' pay go through the roof?

Around the Railway

Submitted by AWL on 10 May, 2006 - 9:51
  • GNER
  • Central Trains
  • South EastTrains
  • Updates
  • GNER

    GNER wants to put in barriers at Kings Cross and other stations on the East Coast route, massively cutting commission earned by on-board ticket-checking staff. Ticket Examiners could lose up to a third of their income, and the gap between lower-paid grades and drivers will keep growing.

Fighting the Fascists

Submitted by AWL on 10 May, 2006 - 9:50

The BNP has launched a trade union. It doesn't have much more than a paper existence, and what paper there is doesn't mention the BNP, but rail workers will be familiar with some involved. Remember Jay Lee, expelled from ASLEF? Or Pat Harrington, kicked out of RMT? He is now president of ‘Solidarity’, this would-be union "for patriotic and nationalist British workers".

Marxism at Work: Can We Manage Without Managers?

Submitted by AWL on 10 May, 2006 - 12:02

We all know that there is a lot of deadwood in the management grades on the railway. When we strike, we can shut - or at least disrupt - the train service. If managers went on strike, no-one would notice for months!

Much, maybe most, of what they do is not about running the railway. Rather, it is about keeping us in line. They hassle us about petty uniform rules, promote the employer's latest glossy-but-useless campaign, use MFA/Attendance procedures to bully people into coming to work when you are sick.

Rail unions & politics

Submitted by AWL on 9 May, 2006 - 11:58

RMT held a conference on working-class representation in January. Since its expulsion from Labour, RMT has been searching for a way to use its political clout in the best interest of its members. Requests have come in to finance some of the most unlikely candidates, including nationalist and reactionary parties and individuals.

RMT still has a Parliamentary group of Labour MPs, and is affiliated to the Labour Representation Committee (it's high time the other rail unions joined too).

Fingerprints please!

Submitted by AWL on 9 May, 2006 - 11:56

What is this - CSI: Railways?! Rail workers in many grades and locations are resisting employers’ moves to make us book on and off using fingerprints.

Amey set up a 'pilot' at the Port Talbot resignalling scheme, without consulting the workforce or the union, just getting the nod from a project manager.

Network Rail wants to use the pilot to spread this outrageous practice to all major project sites.

Two Jags

Submitted by AWL on 9 May, 2006 - 11:07

Cor, bit embarrassing, that loans-for-lordships business. It seems it’s not cricket to give someone a title if they help you out of a tight spot. It was OK for the Tories and Liberals before us, so why not?

See, we don’t get enough dosh from trade unions any more - something about “attacking their members”, they reckon. As we know, unions are small, unrepresentative, elitist, special interest groups, so the obvious alternative is the filthy rich, who, by contrast, are ... um ... never mind.

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