Off The Rails

Marxism at Work: fighting casualisation

Since 2008, 80% of all newly-created jobs in Britain have been on zero hours contracts, where workers have no guaranteed shifts and have to work to the whims of their employer.

Casualisation and the erosion of job security are particularly big problems on the railway. In July 2013, an RMT report estimated only 10% of Personal Track Safety card holders were employed directly by Network Rail. The remainder are employed through agencies or are considered self employed for the companies purposes.

Rail unions and politics

Our unions' political strategies need a serious rethink. TSSA, ASLEF, and Unite remain affiliated to the Labour Party, but are meek and acquiescent within it.

When the Collins Report, an initiative sponsored by the Labour leaders to reduce the union vote inside the party, was voted on, our unions voted for it! Turkeys voting for Christmas in extremis. They don't want to rock the boat before an election year, so, unless forced to change course, our unions will be, at best, mildly critical of the Labour leaders' lack of backbone and their promises to maintain most Tory cuts.

Crossrail

Crossrail will run across London — from Brentwood to the north east, to Abbey Wood in the south east and Twyford to the west. It will affect rail workers across many companies, geographical areas, grades and unions.

Off the Rails thinks that unions should be joining together to get the best possible working conditions out of Crossrail. A lot of us have concerns that, rather than improving our conditions, Crossrail will make them worse. We have a lot of questions at the moment.

Off The Rails Spring-Summer 2014

The Spring-Summer 2014 issue of Off The Rails, a platform for rank-and-file rail workers.

This issue features articles on:

• Fighting sexism in our workplaces and unions
• The May elections: what Ukip really stands for; debating rail unions' political strategy
• LGBT struggles worldwide
• Reports on disputes at: London Underground, Network Rail, Northern Rail, First Great Western, and Rail Gourmet
• Marxism at Work: fighting casualisation

... and much more!

Royal Baby 1894: Up the Republic!

In 1894, Keir Hardie (a proper Labour MP), delivered a speech in Parliament during a special session given over for MPs to give messages of congratulations to the Royal Family on the birth of the prince who would grow up to become King Edward VIII. We think his words ring very true today…

Labour and Tories: two cheeks of the same arse?

Recently the Tories drew level with Labour in opinion polls for the first time in 18 months due to the UK Independence Party's national vote collapse.

The probability of a second Tory government is increasing. The Tories want to cut our industry to the bone. But what would Labour do with it? Would a Labour government be any better? How can workers in our industry and across society have a say in politics as the major parties gear up for the next General Election?

No job cuts on London Overground!

Over 100 jobs on the London Overground network could be lost, as London Overground Rail Operations Ltd. (LOROL) seeks to move to “driver-only operation” (DOO).

The immediate impulse for cut is a 12.5% cut in central government funding for Transport for London, announced in George Osborne’s 26 June spending review. Moving towards DOO is also key recommendation of the McNulty Review into railway industry reform.

Democratise our unions!

The RMT is currently conducting a root-and-branch review of its internal structures. This means RMT members have a chance to say how they think their union should be organised.

Off The Rails has a charter called “The Fantasy Union of Rail and Transport Workers”, which sets out our ideal vision for how unions should operate. The FURTW would be a union led from the workplace up, where members were engaged in deciding strategy and industrial action were controlled by those involved in them. It would also be an industrial union.

Assessing the East Midlands Trains pensions fight

In the aftermath of the pension dispute some rank-and-file train driver members of ASLEF at Nottingham attempted to call the leadership to account over their undemocratic actions in settling the dispute against the clearly stated wishes of the membership.

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