Off The Rails

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. The RMT was expelled...

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. For example, it's less than a year until the the line between Liverpool Street and Brentwood is transferred from...

Fighting Tube cuts and closures

Solid strike action in February and April has forced London Underground to concede on some aspects of its cuts plan. The strikes secured guarantees from management that no worker would lose salary as a result of any changes, a commitment they had previously been unwilling to make. But the threat to 953 jobs, and 270 ticket offices, remains. As well as its industrial campaign, the RMT union is supporting a political fight against cuts and closures, linking up with disabled people, pensioners, students, and others through the Hands Off London Transport campaign coalition. Ticket offices closures...

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! Click here to download the PDF.

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… “We are asked to rejoice because this child has been born, and that one day he will be called upon to rule over this great Empire. Up to the present time we have no means of knowing what his qualifications or fitness for that task may be. It certainly strikes me – I do not know how it strikes others – as...

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? The Tories have wholeheartedly endorsed the McNulty report, which recommends sorting out the problems caused by privatisation with a...

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. LOROL wants to implement DOO by December 2013, and, according to rail union RMT, plan to begin the process even if the new staffing arrangement has not been safety-certified. A union...

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. You can read the charter here. The RMT’s review is a chance to make...

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. This primarily consisted of seeking written explanation from the EC. With hindsight this was never going to be enough, they ignored our last letter for example. When they deigned to respond the answers we received included this timeless excuse for bureaucratic abuse of power: “In the middle of protracted and difficult negotiations it is not...

South West Trains in the heatwave

In the recent scorching temperatures South West Trains staff have often had to work out in the open in full uniform. Guards can be required to work on trains without air conditioning for 5 hours or more without a break. Management judge whether its hot enough to allow employees to take their ties off, and woe betide you if you decide to do so without permission. So who is it that can tell when you're getting too hot? Not you, that's for certain.The heat is also highlighting the poor condition of the Wessex route in general. First 20mph speed restrictions were instituted in numerous places to...

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