Off The Rails

Keep the Guard on the Train!

Published on: Tue, 18/11/2014 - 21:32

Moving to “Driver Only Operation” (DOO) is a key recommendation of the McNulty Report, commissioned by the last Labour government and enthusiastically taken up by the Tories. TOCs like Northern Rail and TransPennine Express are already moving towards DOO. But workers are fighting back. A guard on Northern Rail, who has been actively involved in the “Keep the Guard on the Train” campaign, spoke to Off The Rails.


OTR: Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve been involved in locally and on a national level?

Locally, we’ve organised to go out and speak to the public for an hour at a time once or

Marxism at Work: What are Trade Unions?

Published on: Tue, 18/11/2014 - 21:25

In the day to day functioning of capitalist society, workers are exploited. On an individual basis workers are weak and cannot fight back against the bosses so we have formed trades unions – organisations where workers combine together to fight for better conditions.  

Workers have common interests – better pay, better working conditions – around which we can unite in trades unions.  The only power we have is in our numbers, we are strong together.

The purpose of trades unions is to fight for the betterment of workers within the system and many unions fall into an acceptance of the capitalist

Can we force Labour to renationalise the railway?

Published on: Tue, 18/11/2014 - 21:23

In 2009, East Coast Mainline was taken out of the hands of private companies and effectively renationalised.

Successive franchises had been bailed out by central government, so the route is now run by the state-owned Directly Operated Railways (DOR). It is the only part of the mainline railway to be run by the state rather than for profit. Two private companies failed, but as a nationalised railway, East Coast has been successful. DOR claims less funding from the treasury than any of the privately-run franchises, and has returned over £1b into the treasury since it was established. East Coast

East Midlands Trains: don't sell out Senior Conductors!

Published on: Tue, 18/11/2014 - 21:20

Last year, RMT members on East Midlands Trains (EMT) took nearly eight weeks of industrial action (short of strikes).

After EMT bosses sought a high court injunction, some of the action was deemed illegal, on the basis that it was in fact strike action, rather than actions-short-of-strikes.

EMT is suing RMT for hundreds of thousands of pounds off the back of that ruling, but say that they will reduce the amount of damages they will claim if the union agrees to swingeing changes to the terms and conditions of Senior Conductors.

The RMT Executive will likely agree to this to save the union

No to DOO!

Published on: Tue, 18/11/2014 - 21:18

The Department for Transport’s “Stakeholder Consultation” document, released in Summer 2014, contained a requirement for bidders for the next Northern Rail franchise to set out a plan for moving to Driver Only Operation (DOO).

In addition to this, it left the question of whether to introduce DOO on Transpennine Express to the discretion of those bidding to run that franchise.

Moving to DOO nationally is one of the key recommendations of “Realising the Potential of GB Rail”, aka The McNulty Report.

ASLEF leaders have speculated that the Government and rail bosses intend to use the railway in

RMT rule changes

Published on: Tue, 18/11/2014 - 21:10

The next RMT Annual General Meeting, in June 2015, will be a chance to discuss changes to the union’s rules.

The Executive will be submitting its own proposals arising from the review of the union’s structure - but rank-and-file members can also submit proposals through branches.

Eight branches need to submit any particular proposal for it to get on the agenda. Off The Rails is promoting five proposals: see the insert in the zine for the full wording.

1. DISPUTE ADVISORY COMMITTEES. We want a new rule that whenever we have a dispute, the union must recognise a committee elected by and from

Off The Rails goes to France...

Published on: Tue, 18/11/2014 - 21:00

Off the Rails was in Paris at the beginning of October, speaking about the experience of 20 years of railway privatisation in Britain to French railworkers who are facing the start of a serious drive on the part of their state to privatise the railway because of pressure from the EU’s fourth rail package reforms.

We applauded the fact that French railworkers have already taken 2 weeks of strike action in June against the plans, contrasting it with the failure of British railworkers to strike against privatisation back in 1994 at its inception.

The French government has since ratified the

Cleaners' struggles

Published on: Tue, 18/11/2014 - 20:57

Cleaners on Eurostar fought a campaign this year over pay, workload and staffing levels. Cleaners on London Underground’s Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines battled hard to resist their employer’s imposition of biometric booking on.  

These groups of cleaners work for ISS - popularly known in the industry as International Slavery Services. But other cleaning contractors have found themselves facing a fightback from their workforces too.

Interserve cleaners at Waterloo are battling management bullying. Cleaners fought a dispute with contractor Voith on Virgin West Coast over the

First Great Western; Rail Gourmet; Northern Rail; Network Rail

Published on: Tue, 10/06/2014 - 16:20

A round-up of disputes and struggles at First Great Western, Rail Gourmet, and Northern Rail.


First Great Western

RMT members have been challenging First Great Western for months over several issues that amounted to what the RMT called a “breakdown in industrial relations”. In parallel, RMT members have been fighting an ongoing battle with First Great Western for the London Living Wage for Mitie and Rail Gourmet workers.

Following a strong yes vote for industrial action over the breakdown of industrial relations and a promise to pay the London Living Wage, the RMT has sent out messages to its

Fighting for LGBT rights worldwide

Published on: Tue, 10/06/2014 - 16:12

In many countries across the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people are recurrently subjected to targeted killings, violent assaults, torture, and sexual violence.

Shockingly, in 2014, homosexuality is illegal in 76 countries around the world, and in 10 of these punishable by death or life imprisonment. In recent years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has overseen and promoted a vicious onslaught of state-sponsored homophobic legislation in Russia to distract the public from widespread government corruption and other social ills. It is now illegal in Russia to even say

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