Rail unions

Fantasy Union of Rail and Transport Workers

What kind of union do we need? There are strengths and weaknesses in our current union set-up. Union officials will often have you believe that things can only be done the way they are done, because ... well, because they have always been done that way.

We do not agree. We have several criticisms of the existing rail unions, so it is only fair that we set out in more positive terms what our ideal union might look like. Let's call it the Fantasy Union of Rail and Transport Workers (FURT).

What kind of union do we need? There are strengths and weaknesses in our current union set-up. Union officials will often have you believe that things can only be done the way they are done, because ... well, because they have always been done that way. We do not agree. We have several criticisms of the existing rail unions, so it is only fair that we set out in more positive terms what our ideal union might look like. Let's call it the Fantasy Union of Rail and Transport Workers (FURT).

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Violence is not "part of the job"

Author: 

Becky Crocker

25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Both the International Transport Workers’ Federation and the European Transport Workers’ Federation have publicly marked this day and raised the profile of their ongoing campaigns to tackle violence and harassment against women who work in the transport industry. The UK Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will mark this year’s day with a meeting for all women trade unionists and allies.

Women in the transport industry face harassment and violence, women workers in the RMT are organising against this.

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Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Charlotte Zalens, Ollie Moore, Gareth Devonport and Gemma Short

Cleaners working for contractor Interserve at Waterloo station struck on 17-18 November after a manager claimed “we shouldn’t be employing black people.”

The strikes follow earlier action on 10-11 November, and a further 24 hour strike has been called starting at 3pm on 21 November.

The RMT union says bosses have refused to address the allegation through agreed procedures. The union also says Interserve has underpaid wages, as well as victimising, bullying and harassing staff.

Waterloo cleaners walk out over racism; victimisation on Tube; Northern Rail pay dispute; Haringey teachers strike as NUT rep remains suspended.

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Tube jobs fight

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).

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.

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Northern Rail workers vote on pay deal

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.

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

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Northern Rail drivers: fight DOO!

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.

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.

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Keep the Guard on the Train!

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?

A railworker and organiser of the "Keep the Guard on the Train" campaign against job cuts and "Driver-Only Operation" spoke to Off The Rails, the rank-and-file railworkers' magazine produced by Workers' Liberty, about how the campaign has been built.

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Can we force Labour to renationalise the railway?

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

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

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

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.

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

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No to DOO!

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.

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).

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