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...

Stalinist in-jokes won’t build a healthy union

The RMT Young Members Committee has designed a new badge. Nothing wrong with that. But the slogan on the badge, "Always vigilant", has a meaning that is less than edifying. While “vigilance committees” in the unions under the influence of the Communist Party of the 1920s are worthy of study, if not...

ScotRail guards to strike

ScotRail guards based at Glasgow Central station will strike every Sunday between 29 November and 3 January, in a dispute over bosses' abuse of disciplinary procedure.

The strikes are accompanied by a ban on overtime, rest day working, and higher grade working from 30 November to 2 January....

Mick Cash to retire: organise the rank and file!

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash has announced his retirement, only a year into his second term. The announcement was made during a chaotic Annual General Meeting, conducted online. Many delegates and union activists had criticised various aspects of AGM proceedings, including a decision by the union...

RMT: democracy needed

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash has announced his retirement, only a year into his second term. The announcement was made during a chaotic Annual General Meeting, conducted online. Many delegates and union activists had criticised various aspects of AGM proceedings, including a decision by the union’s National Executive to curtail its length once the national lockdown had been announced, and a decision not to allow motions relating to any event later than June 2020, the date at which the AGM was initially scheduled to take place. The particular trigger for Cash's retirement was the AGM's...

How transport workers beat the colour bar

This story of colour bars in the UK railway and bus industries begins after the Second World War, when Britain had a labour shortage and people moved to Britain in increasing numbers from Caribbean countries and elsewhere. The National Union of Railwaymen (NUR, predecessor of the RMT) declared in 1948 that: “we have no objection to the employment of coloured men in the railway industry” and that “coloured men had been satisfactorily employed on the railways over a long period”. But although the top of the union was getting it right, in some areas the grassroots was not. In 1950, white workers...

The Story of Colour Bars on the UK Railway

Speaking at our online meeting in September, Janine Booth tells the story of the period after the end of the Second World War when black people came to Britain but met opposition from some white workers, until the 'colour bar' was defeated in 1966.

Strike Wakes Up Sleeper Bosses

Readers might (or might not) remember the old 'pantries' on the Caledonian Sleeper. Staff used these to get some downtime during the night - not even a kip, just a sitdown, a break.

When the company refurbished the sleeper, the company assured staff were assured that there would still be areas...

Offshore energy and “just transition”

The environmental campaign groups Platform, Friends of the Earth Scotland, and Greenpeace have jointly published a report surveying oil and gas workers’ views about their working conditions, and the future of their industry in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis.

RMT CFDU group launches

A group of activists in the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers (RMT) has launched a “Campaign for a Fighting, Democratic Union” (CFDU), which “fights for rank-and-file democracy and militant industrial strategies.” The CFDU name has been used by a number of previous similar initiatives in the union. This latest initiative has been launched in response to a burgeoning democratic crisis inside the union, which has seen General Secretary Mick Cash use official union communication channels to attack the lay National Executive Committee, and then refuse to carry out his...

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