Off The Rails - Winter 2014/2015

Off The Rails - Winter 2014/2015

Published on: Tue, 18/11/2014 - 21:52

The latest edition of Off The Rails, a platform for rank-and-file rail workers published by Workers' Liberty.

This issue includes news on...

  • Northern Rail pay dispute
  • East Midlands Trains Senior Conductors' dispute
  • London Underground jobs fight
  • Cleaners' struggles

  • Keep the Guard on the Train: interview with a campaign organiser
  • Fighting DOO
  • Can we force Labour to renationalise the railway?
  • ...and...

  • Marxism At Work: What are Trade Unions?
  • Back Findlay/Clark for Scottish Labour leadership
  • Support the Kurds!
  • Off The Rails goes to France
  • To read individual articles from the zine online

    Back Findlay/Clark!

    Published on: Tue, 18/11/2014 - 21:45

    Neil Findlay MSP and Katy Clark MP are standing for the leadership and deputy leadership of the Scottish Labour Party.

    Both of them are committed to rebuilding electoral support for Labour by a return to “the timeless Labour values of community, solidarity, fairness and justice.” They want Labour to adopt policies to attack poverty, unemployment, exploitation in the workplace, and health and wealth inequalities.
    The Blairite candidate for the leadership position, Jim Murphy MP, wants Labour to continue with the same programme of austerity-lite, letting the Tories set the agenda.

    Neil and Katy

    Tube jobs fight

    Published on: Tue, 18/11/2014 - 21:43

    Since November 2013, London Underground workers have been fighting a management cuts plan that could see hundreds of jobs slashed and every ticket office on the network close.

    Strikes in February and April, as well as overtime bans and other industrial action, along with the threat of further strikes, have pushed management back. They have been forced to delay the implementation of their cuts until early 2016, and make a number of concessions to the RMT (the only Tube union which has consistently fought the cuts).

    These concessions include a guarantee that any worker affected by the new

    Northern Rail workers vote on pay deal

    Published on: Tue, 18/11/2014 - 21:40

    ASLEF members at Northern Rail have voted to take strike action over pay. The result was 82.2% voting Yes on an 82% turnout.

    The union met the company's management on 17 November, where the company offered a further 0.3% in year one of the deal, plus commitments on "retention" talks for drivers. On 18 November, as Off The Rails went to press the union's Executive Committee had resolved to hold a referendum on this offer, with full details promised with the voting paper.

    This seems an odd choice for the union leadership to make, rather than rejecting what is still a measly increase with a very

    Northern Rail drivers: fight DOO!

    Published on: Tue, 18/11/2014 - 21:36

    Traincrew on Northern Rail and, presumably, in other TOCs/FOCs will have seen the blue rectangular stickers in driving cabs bearing the ASLEF and British Transport Police emblems.

    These stickers give a list of steps that a driver should take in the event of their train striking a person. The list includes obvious things like contacting the signaller and the BTP “Fatality Hotline”. What it does not include is that the driver should inform the guard.

    It is true that not all trains have a guard but that can be covered using appropriate wording. Where a guard is present, surely they are the

    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

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