Off The Rails Spring 2008

Defend Your Pension

Published on: Tue, 01/07/2008 - 09:48

On 19 February an initial meeting took place between rail unions and employers to discuss the implications of the Railway Pensions Commission’s final report. Subsequently the unions have agreed to attend industry-wide discussions with employers under the auspices of the TUC with a view to continuing the dialogue.

This pan-industry group will have no executive power but would have an overview of the issues covering everyone. It will try to get agreement from the unions and employers on frameworks and processes it proposes to deal with the problem. In addition a number of sub-groups have also

EMT Buys Time To Train Scab Managers ...

Published on: Sun, 29/06/2008 - 12:11

... And Recruit New Starters

At the end of April, RMT announced 3 days of strike action on consecutive Saturdays by guards working for East Midlands Trains after a ballot narrowly voted in favour of industrial action.

Guards were angry that the company would not give them a decent payment for agreeing to committed Sunday working, that the company planned to use managers and other grades to guard trains on Sundays and that they were going to impose a new grade of senior conductor with inferior conditions (including committed Sunday working), outside existing negotiated structures.

Prior to, and

Network Rail Harmonisation

Published on: Sun, 29/06/2008 - 12:09

It was odd to find that management had pulled the plug on harmonisation with a ridiculous excuse about cost. They have been costing this since the start and only now declare £24 million to be too expensive.

After a massive rejection of the proposed conditions, which could only be described as derisory, the only conclusion is that it was always intended to not harmonise at all.

The obvious advantages of harmonisation for the union are one set of pay and conditions which all the members could unite around. The advantages of harmonisation for management were always harder to fathom.There are some

Young Workers Get Organised

Published on: Sun, 29/06/2008 - 12:08

Young RMT members demanded a renewed drive to organise young rail and transport workers at our annual conference in April.

Several motions reflected on the small size of the conference and resolved to improve young members’ organisation. The conference agreed that there should be a new campaign to encourage young member reps and activists, and that the union should have a young members’ organising strategy. Noting the mass exploitation of young workers in low-paid, casualised ‘McJobs’, we voted to actively recruit amongst low-paid agency workers in our industries.

The Norwegian oil workers’

Network Rail Stations

Published on: Sun, 29/06/2008 - 10:58

RMT and TSSA are jointly balloting staff at the 19 major stations which Network Rail manage. Harmonisation, it seems, is an issue on the stations as well as the track, and NR are unwilling to harmonise terms and conditions as they reorganise staffing.

On top of this, the company refuses to guarantee that there will be no compulsory redundancies, which is always a strong indication that they are planning some!

As usual, an employer up to no good is messing around with the agreed processes for negotiating with unions. In this case, Network Rail seems to think that it can impose its plans locally

Defending On-Train Catering

Published on: Sun, 29/06/2008 - 10:56

As we write, RMT is balloting 700+ train-catering staff, train managers and senior conductors at First Great Western and 400+ catering staff and guards at Arriva Cross Country for industrial action to save catering facilities on high-speed trains.

On-train catering staff have known for a long time that the very existence of the grade is under threat. So union activists pushed resolutions through branches, grades conferences and RMT’s national AGM, calling on the union to launch a campaign to save the grade.

While the union debated the issue, the companies drove ahead with their plans. First

Marxism at Work: Climate Change

Published on: Sun, 29/06/2008 - 10:54

Burning fossil fuels and pumping CO2 into the atmosphere is changing our planet. Current projections see temperatures rising by 3°C by mid-century. Sounds insignificant? It means snow cover disappearing across the world, sea ice shrinking, sea levels rising and extremes of temperature.

Public transport is far kinder to the planet than private. Think of a train full of people and imagine each in an individual car! We need cheap or free public transport. We need investment in high-speed rail, but private firms avoid investment. So we need public ownership and accountability.

Transport workers

Obituary: Greg Tucker

Published on: Sun, 29/06/2008 - 10:52

In April, rail workers lost one of our best workmates, comrades and champions, when Greg Tucker lost his battle with throat cancer. Greg was a lifelong socialist, a dedicated all-grades trade unionist and a nice bloke, very easy to get along with. Greg had been secretary of RMT’s Waterloo branch since 1993 and of the union’s National Conference of Train Crews & Shunting Grades since 1992.

Greg was a train driver at South West Trains. In a grade dominated by ASLEF sectionalism, Greg stuck with the principle of all-grades industrial trade unionism and with the RMT. He was Secretary of RMT’s

Who Speaks For Workers?

Published on: Sun, 29/06/2008 - 10:50

The local elections on May 1 saw Labour haemorrhage support.

Why? Because New Labour has betrayed working-class people, making the rich richer and the poor poorer. The lack of a credible left alternative has meant that voters have turned to the Tories, who are now staging a dramatic comeback. The fascist BNP are also gaining ground because of New Labour’s alienation of working-class voters.

The Tories are now on course to win the next General Election, and the Labour leadership will doubtless implore us to stop criticising them in order to keep the greater evil out of power. No way - it has

Network Rail Signallers - Why The Ballot Was Lost

Published on: Mon, 26/05/2008 - 17:00

Network Rail signallers’ hopes of a decent pay rise took a kicking when a majority of RMT members voted No to strike action. Given that the very same workers had voted decisively to reject NR’s woeful pay offer, the vote against strikes cannot be because people were happy with what was on the table. So why did this happen?

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A lot of newer staff think Network Rail is a great employer, often because they have come directly from an even worse job or from the dole queue, as NR is recruiting externally to some grades that used to be filled by internal promotion only. No wonder external

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