Off The Rails Winter 2009/10

Network Rail Operational

Published on: Fri, 19/02/2010 - 10:22

Network Rail signallers face three attacks which together make for our biggest battle since the national strike of 1994.

Firstly, there is Network Rail’s proposal to do away with detonators for T3 possessions, replacing them with warning boards. The company's pretext is the danger of injury caused by detonators, but everyone knows that the real reason is an attempt to save money.
Scrapping dets will put more onus on signallers. Because it also puts track workers in increased danger (no detonators means more Tebays), and because drivers and guards will still be expected to put down dets, this

Network Rail Maintenance

Published on: Fri, 19/02/2010 - 10:21

Network Rail's threat to axe 1,500 jobs is a major challenge to our ability as workers to defend ourselves and our jobs and conditions. Everyone knows that job cuts are bad news not just for those who will be forced out, but for those who remain, and for services and passenger safety.
RMT has run quite a high-profile pubic campaign against these job cuts, involving various protests and a lobby of Parliament. It needs to maintain this and couple it with a strong industrial fight.
RMT and TSSA are now holding industrial action ballots over the threat of redundancies, a failure to follow existing

Report From Berlin

Published on: Fri, 19/02/2010 - 10:19

Berlin’s supposedly-‘red’ city council is considering privatising the ‘S-Bahn Berlin GmbH’, a wholly-owned subsidiary of public railway company Deutsche Bahn. Although the council has not yet decided on privatisation, it is the main option being discussed. The other option is for the city council to buy the company and merge it with the city-council-owned transport company BVG which runs tubes, buses and trams.

While publicly-owned DeutscheBahn faces losing its public operations in Germany, it acts as a private business in other countries, buying up former public railways. It now has

Stamp Out Sexism

Published on: Fri, 19/02/2010 - 10:16

Have you ever experienced sexism at work? Have you ever witnessed it?

Sexism is prevalent in our male-dominated industry and often goes unchallenged. But women should not have to go through it, and the unions should do something about it.

What is sexism?

Sexism is a set of bigoted attitudes that reinforces the inferior and constricted position in society that women have occupied for centuries, especially working-class women. It is serious, and it encourages a division between working-class women and men. In the workplace, it takes many forms.

Some examples are:

  • Sexist jokes. Have you been

First Scotrail

Published on: Fri, 19/02/2010 - 10:10

First ScotRail is aiming to introduce driver-only operation on the new line between Airdrie and Bathgate. RMT is resisting this because the union knows that it will be rolled out and threaten all ScotRail guards’ jobs.

550 guards and drivers voted five-to-one on an 82% turnout to take strike action (Yes: 379, No: 80); the union called three 24-hour strikes.
First ScotRail demeans the jobs they would like to get rid of. The workers call themselves ‘guards’, but the official job title is ‘conductor’. Management imply they are just glorified ticket collectors who work the doors and play down

Bailing Out Bosses

Published on: Fri, 19/02/2010 - 10:08

Following a two-year fight to make it public using the Freedom of Information Act, ASLEF Executive member Dave Calfe has confirmed what many of us suspected: train operating companies can be compensated for revenue lost when we go on strike!
Back in 2006, the government allowed the Strategic Rail Authority to compensate Virgin Cross Country for its losses during an RMT campaign of strikes against cuts in Sunday pay rates. This enabled the company to dig its heels in and keep going until it won.
Now the truth has come out that this is a deliberate government policy and contained in a clause in


Published on: Fri, 19/02/2010 - 10:07

Bosses at East Midlands Trains have continued their attacks on the RMT by suspending a guard's rep at Nottingham.

As this is the latest in a long line of victimisations of RMT reps by EMT and its parent Stagecoach at South West Trains, we are considering all avenues to fight off this attack.

EMT have coupled these attacks on individuals with a unilateral declaration severely reducing the number of reps that RMT (and only RMT) is allowed to have and the facility time allotted to them. In this way, they hope to convince members that the union can't represent them properly.

Most members will

London Underground

Published on: Fri, 19/02/2010 - 10:05

The fight on London Underground for ‘jobs, pay and justice’ lasted throughout 2009. ASLEF and TSSA sat out the fight, in effect assisting management's attacks on our pay and jobs. RMT ran its dispute well until the strike in June, after which its leadership foundered, eventually leading to an unsatisfactory close just before Christmas. Here, we tell the story and draw out some lessons for the future.

When the recession first hit, the bosses and their media told us to keep our heads down while they pushed the cost onto our shoulders. In January 2009, LU threatened 1,000 job cuts, a 5-year pay

Marxism at Work: Workplace Bullying

Published on: Fri, 19/02/2010 - 10:04

“Work is, by its very nature, about violence — to the spirit as well as to the body... It is, above all (or beneath all), about daily humiliations. To survive the day is triumph enough for the walking wounded among the great many of us.” Studs Terkel

Bosses have always used harsh discipline and authoritarian measures to keep workers in line. In a context of economic crisis, management bullying has intensified as bosses claim that harsher sickness and absence policies, staff cuts and workload increases are all necessary parts of the belt-tightening demanded by the ‘new austerity’.

A National

General Election

Published on: Fri, 19/02/2010 - 10:02

Since the last election trade unionists haven't had much to cheer on the political level. The left is weaker now than it was five years ago. From the important split in the SSP, to the not so important split in Respect, from the further rightward movement of New Labour to the growth of the BNP, the situation has deteriorated.
Sadly, this time round, there is no chance that the outside-Labour left will have a significant presence in this election: most left-of-Labour challenges will be like the Socialist Party’s ‘Trade Union and Socialist Coalition’ (TUSC) which is a smaller version of the

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