Frontline

Off The Rails - Winter 2014/2015

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
  • ...plus...

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

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

    Publications: 

    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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    We can win free education!

    Author: 

    Tom Harris

    The British student movement should take its lead from its counterparts in Germany, Chile and other countries, which succeeded in overturning the introduction of a shambolic, transparently unfair system of tuition fees.

    And it must go further, and demand that the debt hanging over millions of students who have already left study is abolished.

    On the introduction of tuition fees in 1998, many predicted that the change would further entrench university education as the preserve of those wealthy enough to pay.

    The British student movement should take its lead from its counterparts in Germany, Chile and other countries, which succeeded in overturning the introduction of a shambolic, transparently unfair system of tuition fees.

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    Labour's NHS Bill: not good enough

    Author: 

    Jill Mountford, Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign, personal capacity.

    After months of speculation and vague promises Labour's Clive Efford MP has published his NHS (Amended Duties and Powers) Private Members Bill.

    Was it worth waiting for? With the political limits of the Labour Party and the practical limits of what a Private Members Bill can achieve it was never going to repeal the 2012 Health and Social Care Act , nor reverse the cuts and privatisation of the NHS. But the Bill does tackle some of the worst bits of the Health and Social Care Act.

    After months of speculation and vague promises Labour's Clive Efford MP has published his NHS (Amended Duties and Powers) Private Members Bill.

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    The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

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    Kobane fighters say tide is turning

    Author: 

    Simon Nelson

    The situation in Kobane has been boosted by the arrival of Iraqi-Kurdish peshmerga fighters, whose commander Ahmaf Gardi has stated that: "We will not leave until the city is wiped clean of ISIS".

    A representative of YPG, the military wing of the PYD, is quoted as saying that the "existence of peshmerga in Kobane changed the balance of power. We are advancing towards ISIS positions, and now the majority of the city is under our control". 

    The situation in Kobane has been boosted by the arrival of Iraqi-Kurdish peshmerga fighters, whose commander Ahmaf Gardi has stated that: "We will not leave until the city is wiped clean of ISIS".

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    Around the world: 

    Russian fascism on the march

    Author: 

    Dale Street

    On 4 November fascists and other ultra-nationalists marked the Day of Popular Unity by staging a series of demonstrations and rallies in Russia cities.

    The Day of Popular Unity is an official public holiday which commemorates the 1612 liberation of Moscow from Polish occupation. The holiday was celebrated under the Tsars, scrapped by the Bolsheviks in 1917, and reinstituted by Putin in 2005.

    Demonstrations of fascists and ultra-nationalists took place across Russia on 4 November.

    Around the world: 

    How war changed them

    Author: 

    Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

    Wilfrid Wilson Gibson was born in Hexham, Northumberland in 1878.

    He made his living as a poet after leaving school, at first writing poetry in the standard, Victorian-Romantic style. But during his twenties he grew more socially aware, and became well-known for writing about workers and poor people in accessible, everyday language. 

    Two poems by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson — “The Return” and “Back” — portraying the mental trauma of war.

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    Over a thousand rally to support the Kurdish struggle, but British left largely absent

    Author: 

    Sacha Ismail

    1,500 people protested in Trafalgar Square on 1 November as part of the International Day of Action in support of Kobane, the Syrian Kurdish town being besieged by ISIS.

    1,500 people protested in Trafalgar Square on 1 November as part of the International Day of Action in support of Kobane, the Syrian Kurdish town being besieged by ISIS.

    Around the world: 

    Ukraine: undemocracy and pluto-democracy

    Author: 

    Dale Street

    Neo-Nazis, fascists, and other ultra-nationalists from throughout Europe converged on Lugansk and Donetsk on the weekend 1-2 November to act as observers in the 'elections' staged by the so-called People's Republics of Lugansk (LPR) and Donetsk (DPR).

    Vlaams Belang and the National-European Communitarian Party (Belgium), Jobbik (Hungary), Forza Italia (Italy), the Rassemblement bleu Marine (France), Attaka (Bulgaria), "Zuerst" (Germany), and "No to Brussels, Yes to Popular Democracy" (Czech Republic) were all represented among the election observers.

    Neo-Nazis, fascists, and other ultra-nationalists from throughout Europe converged on Lugansk and Donetsk on 1-2 November as observers in the 'elections' staged by the so-called People's Republics.

    Around the world: 

    Outsourced workers at Queen Elizabeth Hospital strike for equal pay and rights

    On 8 October, outsourced workers – cleaners, caterers, switchboard workers, seamstresses, porters and others – employed by ISS at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, South London, struck for the same pay and conditions as directly employed workers.

    On 8 October, outsourced workers – cleaners, caterers, switchboard workers, seamstresses, porters and others – employed by ISS at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, South London, struck for the same pay and conditions as directly employed workers.

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    Tubeworker 29/10/14 — Reinstate Vicky, Noel, and Alex!

    An industrial bulletin for London Underground workers, by London Underground workers.

    This issue includes a call for solidarity with the Kurds; info on the fights to win reinstatement for Vicky Hayward, Noel Roberts, and Alex McGuigan; the latest on the "Every Job Matters" dispute; plus your local and workplace stories.

    Click here to download the PDF.

    An industrial bulletin for London Underground workers, by London Underground workers.

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    A step forward for the Palestinians

    On 13 October, MPs voted to recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.

    On 13 October, MPs voted to recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.

    The motion, proposed by Labour MP Grahame Morris, was passed by 274 votes to 12. It is an additional commitment to a two-state settlement for Israel-Palestine of this and the last government .

    In 2012, when the UN General Assembly voted on whether to recognise the Palestinian state, the UK was one of the 41 nations which abstained. Nine voted against, 138 in favour – but the nine included Israel and the US, the two states with an ability to bring justice to the Palestinians.

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    Around the world: 

    Solidarity with the Kurds is our first concern

    Author: 

    Michéal MacEoin

    As fighters from “Islamic State” (IS) enter the besieged Kurdish town of Kobani in Syria, Kurds abroad have been demonstratiing in several major European cities.

    In a conflict between the democratic, secular Kurdish forces and the fascistic barbarism of IS, Kurds should expect the support and solidarity of the UK left.

    Over the summer, British socialist organisations were rightly a dynamic force in building demonstrations against Israel’s murderous attacks on Gaza, with up to 150,000 marching in London alone.

    In a conflict between the democratic, secular Kurdish forces and the fascistic barbarism of IS, Kurds should expect the support and solidarity of the UK left.

    Around the world: 

    The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

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    Hong Kong protest: time to regroup

    Author: 

    Chen Ying in Hong Kong

    The tide has continued to turn against the democracy protest movement in Hong Kong.

    The HK Government became emboldened to break off talks with the HK Federation of Students. It insisted on adherence to the Basic Law provisions and the recent decision of the China’s People’s Congress to limit chief executive candidates to not more than three, vetted by 50% approval of an election committee packed with Beijing supporters. The students’ demands that the HKSAR government files a supplementary report to Beijing was ignored.

    The tide has continued to turn against the democracy protest movement in Hong Kong.

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    Democracy in Donetsk?

    Author: 

    Dale Street

    The Central Election Commission (CEC) of the "Donetsk People’s Republic" (DPR) has published a list of the organisations which will not be allowed to participate in the DPR elections on 2 November.

    Pavel Gubarev’s "Novorossiya" is among those excluded, although Gubarev is the former "People’s Governor of Donetsk Region" and a regular of Moscow’s television studios.

    According to Roman Lyagin, head of the CEC:

    The Central Election Commission of the "Donetsk People’s Republic" has published a list of the organisations which will not be allowed to participate in the DPR elections on 2 November.

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    Around the world: 

    Police kill another black youth in St Louis

    Author: 

    Gemma Short

    An off-duty police officer shot dead Vonderrit Myers Jr, an 18 year old black man, in St. Louis, Missouri on Wednesday 8 October.

    The unnamed police officer was wearing his police uniform while working for GCI, a private security firm. The practice of police officers taking second jobs as security guards is widespread. GCI alone employed 168 officers in 2012. The wearing of police uniform is permitted by the state police department. It appears that these security firms are often employed to patrol residential streets.

    An off-duty police officer shot dead Vonderrit Myers Jr, an 18 year old black man, in St. Louis, Missouri on 8 October.

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