Off The Rails Summer 2011

McNulty: War on Railworkers

Published on: Fri, 29/07/2011 - 21:27

Roy McNulty published his report, ‘Realising the Potential of GB Rail’, on 19 May. The report will inform the Government’s transport policy, with a White Paper expect this Autumn. The key recommendation is: cuts. Savings of £1bn a year should reduce the cost of running the rail network by 30%.

The cost-cutting is dressed up as giving ‘passengers and taxpayers ... the fair deal they deserve from the rail industry.’ Acknowledging UK rail fares are the highest in Europe and passenger groups’ calls for reform, Sir Roy McNulty recommends a ‘less complex and more equitable’ system of fares. He also


Published on: Fri, 29/07/2011 - 21:25

According to an article in the Times (12 May), ‘David Cameron is facing growing pressure to take on rail unions amid anger over workshy practices that are said to be putting the future of the network at risk.’

So the rail unions are putting the network at risk? Not according to the opinion, for example, of the Potter’s Bar accident enquiry judge. He recently ruled that ‘Overall responsibility for the breach of duty lay with Railtrack at senior management level and their failures were significant and extensive.’

The article continues that train companies are troubled by our unions insisting on

Heathrow Express

Published on: Fri, 29/07/2011 - 21:24

Heathrow Express workers have won a much-improved pay deal - with the company’s attempted productivity strings dropped. They achieved it through solid industrial action following years of sustained work to build up union organisation.

Virtually all HEx staff are RMT members, including drivers - an unusual situation within the industry, and one which has given the workforce the power of being united in one union, with all grades able to take action together. The fact that HEx workers were in a position to fight for an improvement in an above-inflation pay offer, when workers elsewhere are

London Midland

Published on: Fri, 29/07/2011 - 21:22

In March, London Midland announced plans to cut 122 full-time and eight part-time jobs; the number could rise to 300+. Opening hours will decrease in almost every ticket office; some will close altogether. We hear that smaller stations such as Apsley and Tring and will be entirely unstaffed.

When left unstaffed, these stations are already targets for vandalism. Staff regularly hear reports that ticket machines have been smashed up for the money inside. Staff from the next station are put in the dangerous position of being sent along the line to sort out the vandalism. Stories like these, and

Network Rail Signallers

Published on: Fri, 29/07/2011 - 21:21

Network Rail has announced plans to cut signallers from 6,000 to 2,000 over the next 30 years. NR plans to centralise signal-boxes, and to reduce ECRO centres from 13 to 2 and halve the number of Electrical Control Room Operators it employs.

The pretext for this is new technology. We welcome technological progress that makes our work easier, safer and more effective. But we do not have to accept that it has to lead to job cuts. Instead, new technology can be used to bring about improved services, reduced working hours and better conditions, without loss of jobs or pay.

We will no doubt hear

Save Bombardier Jobs!

Published on: Fri, 29/07/2011 - 21:18

Marching for Jobs

Workers rallied in Derby on 23 July to protest the loss of 1,400 jobs at the Bombardier train manufacturing plant.

The losses come as a result of the government’s decision on 16 June to award the £1.5 billion contract for new carriages for the Thameslink rail line to German manufacturer Siemens.

After the rejection of their rival bid, Canadian-owned Bombardier announced on 5 July that it would cut 1,400 jobs (446 permanent and 983 temporary) from the current workforce of 3,000 at its Derby site, where rail rolling stock has been built under various ownerships for 171 years.


How To Win

Published on: Fri, 29/07/2011 - 21:15

Some recent disputes have, to great effect, employed the sorts of tactics and strategies that can turn an industrial dispute into a real weapon, used to force concessions from bosses rather than just to register a protest.

A dispute on London Underground to win the reinstatement of sacked union reps, strikes at Rawmarsh school in Rotherham against job cuts, and the Southampton council workers’ strikes, are proving that there is an alternative way of conceiving of and running industrial disputes. In the case of London Underground and Rawmarsh they have already won. What are they doing

Are Cuts Necessary?

Published on: Fri, 29/07/2011 - 21:13

Q. Why is the Government making massive cuts in public spending?
A. Because it cares about financial institutions not about ordinary people's needs.
Week to week, governments get cash for their spending by selling bonds to international financial institutions. The ability to sell with a low interest rate for payment depends on the international financial institutions having confidence in government finances.
So these cuts now are all about keeping the banks and international institutions that fund day-to-day government expenditure happy.
There is another reason too. The Tories have always

East Midlands Trains

Published on: Fri, 29/07/2011 - 21:11

Since we last reported, East Midlands Trains has sacked another guard’s rep, this time under the Managing for Attendance procedure. We lost a ballot for strike action and action short of strike to defend Heather Turner (a previously sacked rep) so we did not ballot in this instance. Both cases are now at different levels of the Tribunal machinery.

To rub salt in the wound, the company also made a divisive pay offer this year. They offered two awards - one that would be better for the guards and another that was better for all the other train crew excluding drivers.

As the guards are a

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