Off The Rails Summer 2010

Network Rail

In the last Off The Rails, we described the battles on Network Rail as ‘a crucial fight’. But how is that fight going? These two pages carry reports from Network Rail workers on both the maintenance and the signalling side of the job.


NR Maintenance

Justice for Jarvis?

When the bosses failed, workers were made to pay the price. That's what happened when Jarvis and its two rail companies - Jarvis Fastline and Jarvis Rail - were placed in administration earlier this year.

Jarvis was contracted by Network Rail, and NR and the government that backed it are to blame for the catastrophe that has befallen the workforce.

Anti-Union Laws

John McDonnell MP presented his Private Members' Bill to parliament on 30 June. If adopted, it would significantly improve unions' ability to defend their members and would be the first step towards the full restoration of trade union rights.

Our Coalition Against Theirs

After Labour threw the election away by betraying the working-class voters who elected it, we now have a Tory-LibDem coalition government. The ConDems have launched an onslaught on our public services, our pay and conditions, and our rights. And we need to fight back to defend ourselves.


After urging people to vote LibDem to keep the Tories out, the LibDems have put the Tories in. This coalition stitch-up shows that the LibDem party is in no sense a friend of working people.

Ticket Offices Under Attack

Rail companies around the country are slashing ticket office opening hours and cutting ticket-selling jobs, using the pretext that the internet, smartcards and other new technologies make ticket offices less relevant. It can seem hard to argue against this, but there are several relevant points.

Hell on Wheels

The pamphlet Hell on Wheels: the Success and Failure of Reform in Transport Workers Union Local 100 tells the story of New Directions (ND), a rank-and-file group within Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, which represents New York transport workers. Written by Steve Downs of socialist group Solidarity, it focuses on how to achieve reform within unions.

Main events

London Transport News

London Underground plans to cut around 800 jobs, mainly among station staff, and to slash ticket office opening times. There are also staff cuts in service control, and with 300 drivers more than it needs, LU seems to be trimming the ‘excess’ by sacking drivers for mistakes that would have got you a warning before now. And leaked documents have shown that plans are afoot to cut jobs in engineering and fleet.

The Trade Union Bureaucracy

Union members and activists are usually very loyal to our unions, work hard in day-to-day union organisation and disputes, and support our union leaders so long as they are supporting us. But we also often feel frustrated and demoralised when our unions settle deals above our heads or against our interests, drag heels and shy from a fight, or seek to resolve a dispute as soon as it begins. How often have we been baffled by seemingly bizarre actions from our unions?

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