Solidarity Magazine » Railways Fri, 01 Mar 2013 19:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Eurostar/ St Pancras International cleaners strike suspended Thu, 01 Mar 2012 10:50:59 +0000 Continue reading ]]> RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that in order to allow for further negotiations to try and resolve the pay dispute with Initial on the Eurostar contract, the following strike action has been suspended:-
· 06:00 hours on Thursday 1st March 2012 until 05:59 hours on Saturday 3rd March 2012
RMT members will work as normal and further updates will be issued by the union in due course.

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RMT seeks urgent meeting with Transport Secretary Sun, 12 Jun 2011 19:01:38 +0000 Continue reading ]]> RAIL UNION RMT today demanded an urgent meeting with Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond as a detailed study of the fine print of the McNulty Rail Review revealed that it will pave the way for:

· the closure of all Category E station ticket offices;

· reducing the opening hours at Category D station ticket offices;

· increasing the use of Ticket Vending Machines at Category A to C stations, enabling a reduction in the number of ticket office windows

RMT have calculated that the proposals will have the effect of halving the number of ticket offices on the Network and meaning that three quarters of stations will not have ticket offices. Those remaining will have substantially reduced hours.

With the McNulty Review also recommending that Driver Only Operation should be the default position on all services, that gives the train operators the green light to dump all guards from their services by the beginning of 2013 on top of the Ticket Office cuts and closures – axing safety-critical staff from stations and trains in one blow.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

On the day that Network Rail have issued their annual results this detailed scrutiny shows us just what the real consequences of McNulty will be – wholesale de-staffing of trains and stations to fatten up profits at the expense of passenger service and passenger safety.

We warned that the McNulty carve up would turn the rail system into a muggers and a criminals paradise, where profits are the only show in town, and this latest research shows the full extent of the dangerous track we are being dragged down.

For passengers it means paying higher fares to travel on unsafe, de-staffed services while the train operators are laughing all the way to the bank.”

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RMT response to the McNulty Rail Review Fri, 20 May 2011 09:21:28 +0000 Continue reading ]]> RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

The inefficiencies of the UK rail system are entirely bound up with the fragmentation and profiteering of privatisation. The McNulty report tacitly accepts that but does nothing to address the issue”

A graphic example is First Group bailing out of the Great Western franchise three years early, depriving the taxpayer of £826 million in premium payments while soaking up £140 million in government subsidy at the same time. Deal with that kind of scandal and the Government could claw back their £1 billion savings target at a stroke.

Rail services are 30% more expensive in the UK as against comparable European operations for one, simple reason – privatisation. It’s the greed, exploitation and restrictive practices of the train operators that have led us to this situation and we will fight any attempt to shift the blame onto hardworking staff trying to provide quality services against a backdrop of increasing demand and front-line cuts.

It’s a gross waste of time and money that Network Rail has 600 lawyers on the books doing nothing other than negotiating with the train operators on who is responsible for delays and arguing the toss between them for assorted service failures. Public ownership of an integrated rail service would put an end to that nonsense.

RMT has said all along that sacking staff, closing ticket offices and jacking up fares, while the train operators are handed gold-plated franchises, is just an escalation of all the worst practices of privatisation and if that is the outcome of this process it will be resisted by rail unions and the travelling public alike.”


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RMT strike Arriva Tains Wales Mon, 27 Dec 2010 15:35:35 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Following an 85% ballot in favour of strike action, RMT train driver members on Arriva Trains Wales were out on strike today. The action is in response to a paltry offer on pay. The drivers are some of the lowest paid in the country.

Below is a report, courtesy of Alex Gordon.

Report from Cardiff – strike and picket lines are going brilliantly. The RMT drivers are out 100%, and the vast majority of ASLEF drivers have refused to cross picket lines in Cardiff. We had pickets out at 1AM this morning to meet drivers booking on for the earliest turns, and all refused to cross the lines. Arriva Trains Wales ha…ve given up any hope of running a service on the Valleys and have suspended it completely until Tuesday the 28 December. On the mainline, although they hoped to be able to run a service, it has been decimated by the actions of RMT drivers striking and their ASLEF colleagues refusing to cross picket lines, and the number of services run out of Cardiff up to 06.45 was a fraction of what would normally be running in and out of the main station in the Welsh capital on a Monday morning.

Picket lines have been operating in several locations around Cardiff Central to cover as many entrances as possible, as management have tried to set up booking-on points at alternative locations to circumvent the picket lines – unsuccessfully in most cases!! Picket lines have also been organised at Rhymney Depot at the top of the Rhymney Valley, where not a single driver booked on for duty this morning, and Treherbert Depot at the top of the Rhondda Valley. The service down each valley would ordinarily carry large numbers of people into Cardiff in the morning peaks and throughout the day for shopping.

The resolve of the strikers is absolutely solid and their morale is very high, and they are prepared to take as many days of strike action as is necessary to force ATW back to the negotiating table with a realistic pay offer, realistic terms and conditions, and without the strings that the company seem to believe must form part of any offer they make.

In a splendid display of unity from other workers and Trades Unionists, members of Cardiff Trades Council, the UCU union and the PCS union all came out to the pickets to show solidarity at 04.00 this morning.”

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RMT slams Government plans to halve numbers of additional rail carriages from 1300 to 650 over next four years Thu, 25 Nov 2010 21:35:45 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Publication Date: November 25 2010

RAIL UNION RMT today accused the government of deliberately distorting the announcement on rail investment to cover up the fact that they have halved the promised number of additional railway carriages over the next four years from 1300 to 650.

RMT has also accused the government of kicking in to the long grass the Inter City fleet replacement programme and key electrification and High Speed projects.

In Jan 2008 the government announced a new rolling stock plan to deliver extra capacity on the railway. This included 1300 extra carriages to be bought onto the network between 2010 – 2014. The Hammond statement today says “an additional 650 carriages will have been delivered to the network between 6 May 2010 and March 2014 – halving at a stroke the numbers promised to the travelling public.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

Today’s announcement on the railways is classic political smoke and mirrors. Key infra structure developments like the Inter City Fleet and High Speed projects have been kicked deep into the long grass and even the carriage procurement numbers have been dressed up to look better than they are with long term projects mangled up with the urgent replacements required to keep pace with current demand. When you strip away all the lies and distortions the truth is that the carriage replacement programme over the next four years has been slashed by 50%.

The reality is that the inflation busting fare increases kick in within weeks while the infrastructure and upgrade works we need to drag the UK’s railways out of the slow lane are light years away. The profits of the train companies are ring fenced while the services to passengers are left to rot. The travelling public will be rightly angry once the spin and hype around this announcement is exposed and the reality sinks in – they will be robbed blind in the new year to pay for the political promise of jam tomorrow.”

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RMT calls stoppage and overtime ban in support of sacked First Great Western member Fri, 19 Nov 2010 15:56:39 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

Rail union RMT announced today that members at First Great Westerns Long Rock Maintenance Depot in Penzance will be taking strike action and action short of a strike in support of their colleague Kane Jones following his unfair dismissal.

Following a massive ballot result in favour of supporting Kane Jones RMT members have been instructed to take strike action by ceasing to work and leaving the site between 05:00 and 06:00 on Wednesday 24th November 2010.

RMT members have also been instructed not to work any kind of overtime between 00:01 hours on Wednesday 24th November 2010 until 23:59 hours on Wednesday 1st December 2010.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

In spite of the overwhelming show of opposition which has been demonstrated by RMT members at Long Rock Maintenance Depot, Kane Jones remains dismissed for what are wholly unfair reasons. In the face of management’s intransigence the RMT executive has decided that the union needs to escalate this dispute to achieve justice for Brother Kane Jones.

RMT has informed First Great Western that we remain available for talks and we hope that management will now see sense and take the necessary steps to resolve this dispute. RMT is demanding the immediate reinstatement of Brother Kane Jones and in order to achieve this goal we have had no option but to announce industrial action and we know that our members, who voted almost unanimously for action, will continue to show total solidarity with their sacked colleague.”

Publication Date: November 18 2010

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RMT calls on STUC to condemn SNP ‘union-bashing’ over Scotrail Wed, 21 Apr 2010 11:56:23 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

THE SNP government at Holyrood is set today to be accused by the Scottish TUC of “union bashing as shocking as the dark days of Thatcher” – on the very day that its leader addresses delegates in Dundee.

An emergency motion from RMT, Scotland’s biggest rail union, to be debated later today, congratulates Scotrail staff who have taken six days of strike action and pledges the STUC to support the campaign against the extension of driver-only operation.

The motion (full text below) condemns the use of public money by the SNP government not only to bankroll losses by Scotrail during a dispute provoked by the company, but also to finance a strike-breaking army of scabs.

It also commits the STUC to back the campaign to see workers who were dumped with the collapse of rail contractor Jarvis to be transferred to new contractors on their existing terms and conditions.

It is a scandal that the SNP government has abused public funds to bankroll a dispute aimed at undermining rail safety,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said in Dundee today.

Our members have made clear where they stand, and that imposition of driver-only operation on the Airdrie-Bathgate line would be the thin end of the wedge that would see safety-trained guards removed wholseale.”

I am confident that Scottish trade unionists will put themselves squarely behind RMT’s determination to defend rail safety,” Bob Crow said.

RMT emergency motion to STUC on Railway Safety

Congress congratulates RMT conductors , drivers and sleeper-train managers who have taken six days strike action against plans to extend Driver Only Operation on Scottish Passenger Services. Congress pledges its full support for this dispute and states its opposition to extension of Driver Only Operation.

Congress also congratulates Elaine Smith MSP for forcing the Scottish Government to publish, on 17th March 2010, correspondence with First Scotrail which revealed the Scottish Government and Scotrail are negotiating how much tax payer’s money should be used to cover loss revenues for the dispute and pay for scab labour. Congress believes this represents a plan and coordinated level of union-bashing from the SNP government as shocking as the dark days of Thatcher.

Congress notes that the safety of the railway is also being undermined by Network Rail overseeing the sacking of hundreds of maintenance and renewals workers. The cuts are increasing the use of poorly supervised agency staff being forced to travel long distances and work long hours to find work and earn a wage. There are insecurities and low morale which in turn will have an adverse impact on how safety critical work is carried out.

Congress also notes that on 31 March 1200 Jarvis rail workers were sacked after the company went into administration and Network Rail and the UK government failed to back a rescue plan.

Congress further notes that at a meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport on 15th April, RMT and TSSA were informed that former Jarvis work will be re- allocated in a “matter of days”. Congress agrees to support the campaign to ensure all former Jarvis employees are transferred under TUPE to the new contractor.

Finally Congress welcomes the STUC’s and numerous MSP’s support for the recent lobby for rail safety and pledges to continue to support this campaign.

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Rail unions rally to defend safety rules Wed, 14 Apr 2010 16:08:54 +0000 Continue reading ]]> by John Millington in Lille, France

Transport unions from across Europe have held a mass rally of thousands of railway workers in Lille, France, to protest against the EU-driven privatisation of the industry.

The huge mobilisation brought together 20 unions from across Europe and was supported by the World Federation of Trade Unions.

Basking in the warm spring sunshine, railway workers began the day by blocking roads, lighting red flares and blowing horns as a podium was erected outside the European Railway Agency (ERA) headquarters.

The workers were in Lille to deliver a letter calling on the ERA to give a “clear commitment to rail safety” and assurances that jobs will not be lost “in the interests of competition and profit.”

Unions have expressed widespread concern that increased liberalisation and marketisation of rail services under the auspices of the “undemocratic” Lisbon Treaty will lead to more accidents on networks throughout Europe.

Union representatives were present from Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Greek, Cyprus and the Basque country.

A special mention of solidarity was given to the Hungarian trade unionists who had made the arduous trip to Lille from Budapest.

Scandinavian countries also sent messages of support as did Britain’s firefighters’ union the FBU.

General secretary of RMT Bob Crow, who headed the largest delegation, said that Britain had been used as “a guinea pig” for rail privatisation.

“To me ‘liberalisation’ means ‘free’ – but the only people who can afford to run the railways are big business,” he said.

Mr Crow sparked deafening applause and shouts of support when he added: “Today should not be the end of the rally, brothers and sisters. We should be organising industrial action across the length and breadth of Europe.”

Sister transport union TSSA assistant general secretary Manuel Cortes warned that accidents in Britain such as those in Potters Bar and Hatfield would happen elsewhere through “the pursuit of profiteering instead of safety.

“Profit and safety don’t mix,” said Mr Cortes.

“We have to fight a common enemy with a common voice.”

Portuguese railway workers trade union CGTP-IN national co-ordinator Manuel Alexandre Cruz hailed the day’s action, pointing to the Lisbon Treaty as part of Europe’s “anti-social policies.”

And he insisted that “trade union organisations from different countries must join efforts to fight neoliberalism.”

Mr Cruz said that rail travel was an important social service and that the highest safety standards must be implemented.

“In this moment, in Portugal, the offensive against the public railway and railway workers is getting worse.” he said.

“In Portugal, we are struggling, as you are struggling here today in this European mobilisation, to affirm that the struggle continues.”

Spokesman for German railway rank-and-file group Bahn von Unten (Railways from Below) Hans-Gerd Oefinger declared that the only way to ensure safety was “workers’ and democratic ownership of the entire railway system.”

From the Morning Star

From the Morning Star

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Scotrail strike solid as government and company hide behind each other Mon, 12 Apr 2010 16:22:04 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

Rail workers to lobby Scottish Parliament over safety on Thursday

MEMBERS OF Scotland’s biggest rail union delivered another rock-solid strike this morning as RMT guards and drivers at Scotrail began a 72-hour stoppage against the imposition of driver-only operation on the Airdrie-Bathgate line.

They will be joined on the picket lines at 18:00 tomorrow by sleeper-train managers, who will strike for 48 hours in a dispute that has already seen three 24-hour stoppages by more than 550 staff over the company’s plan to undermine safety by removing guards.

The union accused the Scottish government and the company of hiding behind each other and described the government’s decision to bankroll Scotrail through the dispute as a scandalous abuse of taxpayers’ money.

Rail workers will lobby the Scottish parliament from 11:15 on Thursday (April 15) demanding action over safety, both on Scotail and at Network Rail, where the union is also in dispute over safety, jobs and conditions.

It is scandalous that Scotrail have been given a nod and a wink by the Scottish government to undermine rail safety when the transport minister should be telling the company to honour its agreements with us,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.

It is an abuse of taxpayers’ money to bankroll Scotrail’s strikebreaking tactics and indemnify the company against losses.

Our members are quite clear in their resolve that Scotrail must stick to the agreement it has with us that it will not impose further driver-only operation, and they have today delivered another rock-solid strike.

If Scotrail and Transport Scotland think this dispute will go away if they keep their eyes closed and hide behind each other they are plain wrong.

We will be taking our protest to the Scottish parliament on Thursday, and again I repeat my call for a face-to-face meeting with First Minister Alex Salmond to sort out this mess,” Bob Crow said.

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Network Rail's great April fool's prank Fri, 09 Apr 2010 08:53:32 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The greatest April fool’s joke in a long time was perpetrated last week by Network Rail. And in the process, liberty and democracy were struck down. Before midday at London’s High Court, Network Rail claimed the RMT signal workers’ ballot was deficient in a number of regards.

These irregularities included 11 signal boxes being balloted that had been closed for years, in 67 locations more votes were recorded than employees existed there, 26 workplaces failed to be balloted and 12 locations were balloted at which staff were ineligible to vote.

And what was worse, the judge Mrs Justice Sharp seemed to agree with Network Rail as she granted its application for an injunction to stop the strike.On the face of it you’d think that Network Rail had an unanswerable case.How could RMT be so stupid as to ballot workplaces that do not exist and so on?Indeed, this was the basis on which John Humphrys on Radio 4′s flagship Today Programme effectively then accused RMT of ballot-rigging.

But you only need to think about the logic here to begin to understand the patent nonsense that is being perpetuated.Why on Earth would RMT deliberately include non-existent signal boxes, so providing grounds for an injunction to stop the strike?Or was it that poor old RMT is such a slow and lumbering beast that its membership records are so hopelessly out of date?

No, there is something much more serious and malicious going on here, which gives substance to the accusation RMT made in a members’ circular on April 1.”We are concerned that Network Rail may have provided the High Court with false information … to convince the court of their case.”

The key is Network Rail’s use of the terms “signal box,” “location” and “workplace.” By law a union must give the employer the number, grade and location of members being balloted.But it is not signal boxes, locations or workplaces that are balloted. It is individual union members who are balloted at home through a postal ballot – because workplace ballots are no longer permitted. Thus, those 26 workplaces could not have been “excluded from the vote.” And if there were locations where there were “no RMT members” then they would not have been balloted, since only RMT members are balloted – and at home.

Added to this, it is almost impossible for Network Rail to determine whether there are RMT members at particular locations because members mostly pay their subs through direct debit and not check-off.

And RMT could not have balloted more members at 67 locations than there were employees because it can only ballot members who pay subs. It cannot ballot non-members.

So you can see why Network Rail stands accused of deliberately providing false information. One of the grounds the judge appears to have granted the injunction on was that these deficiencies in balloting materially affected the result of the ballot. That would be fair enough had the deficiencies actually existed. The law is framed to allow employers to stop strikes and, if they cannot stop them, to undermine them by compelling the union to give them advance notice so employers can prepare contingency measures.

But that’s not all. When making an application for an injunction, the employer just has to show that it has an arguable case where it would suffer disproportionate damage if the strike went ahead.

The reason why the threshold is so low is that the injunction is a temporary, and not permanent, order. The parties can come back to court at a later date for a full hearing. Of course employers never do, so as to get what they want – the strike struck down.

As if to add insult to injury, the judge decided that RMT would be unlikely at a later full hearing to establish a statutory defence and so permission to appeal her decision was denied.Moreover, the judge has now added further weight to the legal precedent set by Mrs Justice Cox in granting BA’s injunction application last December.Now, applications can be granted where the strike can be shown to have a disproportionate impact on the travelling public.This has no basis in law – indeed, not even the Tory framers of the law were so bold as to try to include this criterion.

What this means is that strikes can be struck down because they would be effective strikes. But the only effective type of strike is one that does cause disruption to the employer, precisely because this provides leverage. The perverse decision against RMT is one that could lead to the banning of effective strikes.

Gregor Gall is professor of industrial relations at the University of Hertfordshire.

From the Morning Star

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