Off The Rails Spring 2007

Central Trains: Fight Crewplan!

Published on: Sun, 04/03/2007 - 21:49

Guards on Central Trains are continuing their campaign against the imposition of a computerised rostering system called Crewplan.

The dispute began over Christmas when RMT held 3 strike days, which called for improved holiday working payments as well as protesting about Crewplan. The strikes were solid, showing management that we were serious about the fight.

The company made a reasonable offer on holiday payments, but tied acceptance to dropping our case against Crewplan - so RMT could not agree.

Local reps threw out an ACAS agreement, and were incensed by management strong-arm tactics

Watch Out - Fascists About!

Published on: Sun, 04/03/2007 - 21:47

You may remember last year Off The Rails reported on the setting up of ‘Solidarity’, a union for “patriotic and nationalist British workers” run by well-known BNPers. It held its first annual meeting at an undisclosed London venue on 24th February.

The BNP has always been at pains to pretend that Solidarity is an ‘independent’ union, not linked to any political party. It even wrote a letter to the Communication Workers Union denouncing an article in its journal claiming that Solidarity was a scab fascist union. But in a recent newspaper article the BNP's national treasurer John Walker let

Network Rail Signallers

Published on: Sun, 04/03/2007 - 21:46

RMT is set to call Scottish Network Rail signallers out on strike; we should all support them. Signallers voted 70%:30%, on a 63% turnout, to strike, angry at management's delays in agreeing the new 35-hour week rosters and refusal to allow them to bank the extra hours into six extra rest days a year - and at managers’ abuses of the Cognisco system.

The issues facing the Scottish signallers affect signallers in other parts of the UK too. Only 50% of rosters were agreed by the December deadline, by mid-January 72%: even then, management claim it takes so long to input the rosters into the HMRS

A View From A Young Worker

Published on: Sun, 04/03/2007 - 21:44

Welcome to life working on the railway. Goodbye social life!

Working in a station surrounded by buzzing nightlife means the life you are missing out on stares you in the face: a constant reminder that while you are working, others are having fun. Your free time rarely coincides with others', so you are less able to use your time off effectively.

Too many railway jobs still have low pay and poor conditions. In many companies, we have a 'two-tier workforce', with older workers who started when the railway was still publicly-owned on better conditions than newer, usually younger, staff.

But in

Railway Cleaners Fight Back

Published on: Sun, 04/03/2007 - 21:39

Historically, cleaning was a core railway function, with many railworkers carrying out cleaning duties alongside other work, and all cleaners in a railway union. But since contracting-out and privatisation, union membership levels have dropped, and vile, predatory multinational companies have moved in, recruited vulnerable migrant workers and kept them on minimal pay, minimal holiday entitlement and the worst conditions they can get away with.

In the face of this, it is good to see RMT revive its efforts to organise cleaners. The union has had successes, such as beating biometric booking-on

It's not a 'man's job' ... it's my job!

Published on: Sun, 04/03/2007 - 21:30

"Sometimes, you feel like you're on trial for the entire female sex. If a bloke makes a mistake, it's 'Fred's having a bad day', but if I do, it's 'Women can't do the job'."

"I really enjoy my job, and I don't complain very often. But when I had just one little grumble, a male colleague told me that if women don't like it working on the railway, we can always leave."

"Lots of women feel that we have to work that much harder to prove ourselves."

"In my company, management often call women for promotion interviews, even if they have no intention of giving you the job, just so it looks like they

Time to Re-affiliate to Labour

Published on: Sun, 04/03/2007 - 21:29

With John McDonnell standing to be Labour leader, trade unionists have a duty to join him in his fight. It is senseless to let an opportunity to upset the Blairites' control of the party machine go by without at least trying to wrest control from them.

John's campaign is ignored by the press as they do not see him as a credible threat. If we could parachute a few thousand activists back into the party, that could really upset Gordon Brown's apple cart. Once John is seen as a threat the media will assassinate his character and warn of the evils of the old left coming back. We need to be in a

RMT and SSP

Published on: Sun, 04/03/2007 - 21:27

RMT has disaffiliated from the Scottish Socialist Party, by request of its Scottish regional council. This follows Tommy Sheridan's split from the SSP, after he prioritised his personal reputation over the party and the socialist cause with disastrous results. If he had shrugged off the News Of The World's scandal-mongering, we might still have a united SSP making progress in Scotland, and RMT still affiliated.

RMT should have had held a referendum of members about its original affiliation to the SSP, but instead took the decision via branches, the region and the Executive. That’s not

Defend Section 12

Published on: Sun, 04/03/2007 - 21:25

The fire regulations for sub-surface stations (enacted under Section 12 of the Fire Precautions Act 1971) came from the Fennell report into the King’s Cross Fire. New rules helped to ensure the safety of our passengers, staff and emergency services.

This is often presented as just being about London Underground, but it is not. There are other metro systems in Britain - in Glasgow, Merseyside and Tyneside - and there are mainline stations which also qualify as 'sub-surface', such as Birmingham New Street.

The Fennell report set down standards on means of escape, means of safely fighting a

Marxism at Work: Overtime

Published on: Sun, 04/03/2007 - 21:20

Lots of workers do overtime to supplement low wages. But while you might feel the need to do this to get by, the system of overtime itself helps the bosses keep your wages down.

Other workers, even if their pay is OK, might feel pressured to do overtime to keep the job running and save their workmates from carrying the burden of uncovered duties. But where employers can rely on workers doing overtime, you find that vacancies take longer to be filled. Why should the company hurry up spending money on recruiting, training and kitting out new staff when they can use the existing ones? Even where

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