Off The Rails Winter 2007/08

Network Rail Ops - Preparing To Fight

Network Rail operational workers are gearing up for a fight on pay – and on other issues.

The unions demanded a 1-year, 4.8% pay rise, to match what NR maintenance workers got this year. No, said management, you can only have 4.8% as the first year of a 2-year deal where you will get just RPI+0.5% inyear 2. If you want a 1-year deal, we’ll only offer 4.3%. No, the unions said rightly, so now only the 2-year offer is on the table.

Harmonisation?

As we reported in the last OTR, the process of ‘harmonisation’ of pay and conditions in Network Rail maintenance has dragged on for years. This has saved the company money, denying pay rises that workers are due. But the unions have no such excuse. The officers responsible for the issue have shown weak leadership and little initiative.

East Midlands Trains

New bosses, same bad attitude

Three months into the new franchise, East Midlands Trains (ex Midland Mainline and part of Central Trains) management have announced their intention to tear up terms and conditions for Senior Conductors.

Unfair Dismissal

Network Rail has sacked long-standing RMT activist Albert Lingard in an act of blatant victimisation.

On 17 October, Albert was due to attend a reps’ meeting to discuss new rosters. Management told one of the other reps that though they had agreed to release him from duty for the full day, they now expected him to do four hours work covering signallers’ meal reliefs. Albert complained to a manager.

Defend Your Pension

The Railway Pensions Commission has published its final report. While ATOC and Network Rail have welcomed it, issuing similarly-worded press releases, the unions have not. Unite describes the proposals as ‘controversial’ and ASLEF has expressed ‘acute disappointment’. They have every right to be disappointed as the commission has failed to meet any of the four key demands made jointly by the rail unions.

FirstGroup Exposed

First Great Western, First Capital Connect, First TransPennine Express, First ScotRail, Hull Trains, FTR, First Bus, First Student UK, ...

First Great Western is ‘Britain’s worst-performing rail route’ (Times online 10/1/08), attacked by Bob Crow for ‘heavy-handed and confrontational management … undermining our members’ jobs’.

Fightback In France

Following the massive strike movement of last Autumn which ended in stalemate, French rail workers are preparing for the next round. Off The Rails’ ‘man in France’ met with Joachim, a union activist and member of Marxist group LCR at Gare Montparnasse in Paris. He described the atmosphere at the station in the wake of November’s battle with management over pensions.

Marxism At Work: Women's Liberation

Women in rail and transport work in a male-dominated industry. The higher grades especially are dominated by men. In the areas with more women, such as catering or cleaning, the low wages reflect that these jobs are devalued as ‘women’s work’. We face sexist comments and sexual harassment, and when we challenge these, we are told we ‘can’t take a joke’. Domestic responsibilities still mainly fall to women, who perform a difficult balancing act between home and work life, getting little sympathy from management.

Organising Migrant Workers

Private companies’ drive to make profit has attacked our pay and conditions. With more use of agency and temporary staff, our jobs are becoming more casual. Employers want a ‘flexible’ workforce to suit their needs, without the burden of providing basic rights such as sick pay or job security.

Tube Update

London Underground workers are gearing up for strike action against a raft of management attacks.

The company is using agency staff and security guards, and plans to bring in ‘mobile station supervisors’ covering several stations at once. Although this is currently confined to a dozen stations, a company document says that these measures will be considered for ‘future wider roll-out’.

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